With the lasting effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry, it is more important than ever to find ways to attract visitors to your town. However, competing with big cities and their many venues of entertainment can make it difficult to keep up.
But what if there was a way to draw in tourists and locals alike? What if you could create something that would make people want to seek out your town? What if you could get on the map?
There is a way, and that is by creating and promoting a roadside attraction! Have you seen the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation? If you have, then you remember Chevy Chase promising his family that they will soon see the world’s second-largest ball of twine. The movie is fiction, but roadside attractions like that are real and do in fact increase tourism.
By having a roadside attraction within your town, you are creating a focal point for your town’s marketing efforts. A roadside attraction can create buzz around your city, improve your online platform’s performance, develop your town’s economy, and solidify your town’s identity amongst the people.
4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Roadside Attraction in Your Town
1. Attractions Create Buzz and Conversations That Increase Tourism
Having a roadside attraction gives a reason for tourists to not miss your town.
With tourists already on the road and wanting to venture through the country, a roadside attraction can be another destination they’ll add to the list of places to stop. How often can one say they’ve seen a 40ft gorilla, a giant pierogi, or the “World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe”? These are just a few examples of large-scale landmarks that can be found across America.
Hearing about these unique landmarks can create buzz and entice tourists to stop by your town. Not to mention that you are providing your tourists with a unique conversation starter that they can share with family, friends, or even other travelers on their journey. This word of mouth can create organic traffic for travelers to come to visit your town, and once they do, you’ll be able to showcase the local businesses and culture that your town is known for.
By having a roadside attraction, you are also giving opportunity for your town’s economy to grow, more on that later.
Bonus Tip: Get Listed in Directories
There are directories, from Wikipedia to travel websites, that list must-see attractions, including those places with “The World’s Largest” sculptures that make it easy for travelers to plan road trips. Making sure your community is listed on these directories is an easy way to get attention.
2. Attractions Create an Organic Social Media Tool for Your Town
Nowadays, posting on social media is key to growing awareness for anything, whether it be businesses, people, cities, or towns. Having a unique landmark that can only be found in your area can provide a memorable photo opportunity for tourists to use and post on social media. This in turn can become an organic way for your town to market itself and grow its online presence. You can even encourage visitors to use a hashtag to help keep track of any photos posted on social media.
Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. You most likely didn’t have to google where you can find those landmarks because their symbol is so closely tied to that city. Especially with today’s social media climate, all it takes is one photo of your attraction to go viral and draw the attention of potential visitors.
If you’re really eager about how to maximize the photo potential of your roadside attraction, you can provide fun, personalized photos of your tourists when they come to visit your location – think of photos that they provide at theme parks, national parks, and gift shops.
3. Attractions Help Develop Your Town’s Economy
As mentioned earlier, having a roadside attraction can help boost your town’s economy. An influx of tourism means an influx of money into your local economy.
A landmark acts as a stepping stone for your town. Drawing people into your community helps to share the spotlight from the attraction to local businesses. Hidden gems can be found in many communities and having an attraction can help uncover them. Travelers will be spending money on food, lodging, souvenirs, and attractions while they visit your town.
Check out this great example of photo op bench characters. This pair of dating dinosaurs in downtown Drumheller, Alberta (known as Gus and his girlfriend to locals) are located at 2 separate bus stops on opposite ends of the street, prompting visitors to take a stroll through the main street and see all the other stores and restaurants along the way.
Beyond increasing the activity at local businesses, the attraction itself can create job opportunities for local residents, from management and maintenance to customer service and sales positions.
If you want to take your town’s development one step further, you can provide memorabilia based around your landmark. Think of keychains, magnets, t-shirts, hats, and more. The possibilities are endless. Your landmark will be a feature that can’t be found anywhere else, tourists will love to take a little memento back home or to give to a loved one.
Seeing this landmark not only in its main location but throughout your town can help build and solidify your town’s identity.
4. Attractions Solidify Your Town’s Identity and Boosts Community Pride
We’ve talked a lot about the marketing and economic potential that having a roadside attraction can provide, but a roadside attraction can also benefit the individual members of your community as well. This is because your landmark can become a unifying symbol that represents your town.
It’s easy for people living in small towns or rural areas to feel disconnected from the rest of the world; having a unique piece of art or landmark can give them something tangible that they can point to with pride and say “This is ours!” As word spreads about your town’s one-of-a-kind creation, more and more locals may flock to check it out as well —especially if it’s free!
You may be worried about how to decide on a piece for your town, a simple solution would be to provide a public survey of what your citizens want to be represented with and go with the majority. Having a brand new attraction for your town can help jumpstart excitement within the community and become a talking point for social events and gatherings.
Are You Ready to Boost Your Tourism Power with a Roadside Attraction?
Roadside attractions have been around for decades but have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to attract tourists from near and far. Investing in one could potentially bring numerous benefits to your town including increased tourism, economic development, social media growth, and community pride.
Why not give people a reason to seek you out? Give them an adventure by creating a giant sculpture or artwork as a roadside attraction!
One of our Creative Consultants would love to help. Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started creating your special attraction.
If you thought this article was interesting, watch this incredible landmark whale sculpture come to life in Texas: