Trip planning: How to ensure your mobility network is prepared for the return of tourism
August 13, 2020
August 13, 2020
A lull in visitor volumes due to COVID-19 could give tourism hotspots the chance to plan their mobility strategies for the next busy season
Fresh air. Beautiful views. A sense of history. There’s nothing like working on projects for tourism-focused municipalities. We love visiting fascinating locales while developing transportation and transit strategies for clients. It’s rewarding to help a city or town implement a new plan that makes life better for their residents and visitors.
Of course, when it comes to travel, 2020 has been challenging, as some tourism-focused municipalities welcome fewer visitors because of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. But perhaps there’s an opportunity here, as a lull in visitor volumes could give tourism hotspots the chance to plan.
As government agencies look to encourage tourism in the coming years, we predict a strong need for better mobility planning. It’s important that your planning enhances the visitor experience. Imagine rushing to load up the car with your family, driving a few hours while discussing your fun weekend ideas, and then encountering traffic snarls or full parking lots that take away from a destination’s local charm.
Making it easier to visit your town will encourage people to come back.
Communities can start by asking themselves questions like, “Where do we want to be in the future, in terms of our tourism? How can we support that plan and accommodate those people?” Beyond planning how cars can get around your community—for example, creating wider roads or building bigger parking lots—it’s wise to examine emerging mobility technology and solutions. Is there a way to leverage a bike share, shuttle service, or e-scooters to mitigate costly infrastructure expansion? Transit ridership data, traffic counts, and mobile app data can help municipalities examine their mobility needs and develop a plan.
If you’re a tourism-focused municipality that’s considering a new mobility plan, here are some points to contemplate.
Recently, we’ve worked on some interesting projects within our home province of Ontario, Canada, including in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the picturesque community of Tobermory. Niagara-on-the-Lake provides visitors with beautiful vistas, celebrated wineries, cute bed-and breakfasts, a popular annual theatre festival, and a downtown Heritage District featuring fascinating architecture and charming shops. The Bruce Peninsula area in Tobermory—for which we’re working with Parks Canada—offers stunning beaches, clear waters, tall pines and cedars, the majestic cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, and many scuba diving opportunities to explore shipwrecks in the area. We’re helping both destinations take action by looking at their mobility plans to ensure a positive experience for visitors.
In general, when we work with tourism-focused clients on their plans, here are some questions that come up at the beginning:
It’s important that residents know that proposed solutions will likely enhance things for locals as well as tourists.
Once you’ve asked questions and discussed the current conditions, you can think about the future. What issues are you hoping to address? If your town is a summer hotspot now, are you looking to pivot to a year-round destination or a retirement community? What impact will that have on your roads and transit system?
If you’re looking at ways to reduce the number of cars and limit overcrowding in parking lots, you can consider strategies like:
As tourist-focused municipalities look at attracting people again in the years following the current pandemic crisis, perhaps now is the time to start planning for increased visitor volumes. We’re looking forward to working on more projects in picturesque places as vacation destinations consider their ideal mobility futures.