The idea of committing the present Downtown to a touristic zone has been proposed. Here, then, are a few suggestions of the requirements for the success of such a zone. We believe there are 6 basic requirements:
1. Entrepreneurial Leadership
2. Shared Vision
3. Commitment to the Tourism Business Model
4. Commitment of Government Support
5. A Plan to Create Product
6. A Business Community Without Ego
Entrepreneurial Leadership
Leadership is not a matter of title or power. It is the ability to develop an appropriate strategy to accomplish the goals established, and to create an environment in which the group is happy to pursue that strategy. This includes, but is not limited to the development of a plan of action, the marshalling of human and financial resources, political support and group buy-in needed to manifest the plan. We believe the Downtown Partnership was created with that in mind, however it lacks the two qualities necessary for the success of its mission in this respect. Its leadership has not been drawn from the pool of risk-takers in the community, and it has not been able to marshall either the human and financial resources needed nor to get community buy-in for its program. The vision it espouses is the vision of successful retailers, enjoying the benefits of cruise tourist traffic. It is a fact that the majority of the money spent by those tourists is spent on retail on Bay Street, hense the belief that that is what the opportunity is. The fact that the level of tourist spending is among the lowest in the region suggests otherwise. Retail sales is a small part of the expenditure of tourists, and is highest where there are opportunities for tours, amusement and entertainment.
But the present vision is driven by the retailers on Bay Street because the community has heretofore measured success in terms of volume of customers, not income. What is needed is a vision that broadens the perspective and brings income to the forefront. Entertainment and amusement are seen as risk-laden businesses, but they are the types of businesses needed if the zone is to raise its income potential to the level of “sustainable”. That kind of environment requires entrepreneurial leadership.
Shared Vision
The Vision for the new Old Nassau must be painted on the background of the history of the place and its people. But it must also be painted on fabric that promises the generation of sustainable businesses. The history of the place is either recorded in the built environment or in artifacts. The personality of the people is recorded in the various traditions through which they live their lives, and through the cultural displays provided. And there is only one kind of sustainable businesses – ones that make a profit. In the business of Tourism, profitability depends on the attraction of visitors in seasrch of experiences and the availability of those experiences once they arrive. The Vision for the area must therefore first understand what unique experiences drive the traffic into its “store”, then provide those experiences plus.
The Tourism Model
Tourism is an activity. It is the movement of people in search of unique experiences. Some places make their living hosting and enabling those travelers. They are called Tourist Destinations, and they understand that drayloads of money is made by creating access to those unique experiences. The Model is simple; a Visitor in Search of a Place Specific Experience is given access to those Experiences in a “shop” called an Attraction, where they pay and the provider of the Experience makes a living. So also do the providers of the Transportation, Accommodation and Hospitality infrastructure that support the Attraction. So also do the businesses that make the enjoyment of the experience more memorable and/or convenient.
The Vision must be based upon a commitment to create an ever expanding stock of Attractions, the way a Mall expands with its shops.
Commitment to Support
Business in a Tourist Destination requires that the generators of business are assured certain elements of support. The support must be offered in five important areas:
Financial Support
Most Attractions are seen as risky, and therefore not easy for traditional banking. The life-blood of the Attractions business is non-traditional sources of funds, whether private or institutional. The leadership of the zone must institutionalize the funding systems.
Infrastructure
• The most under-estimated feature of successful Attractions is convenient parking. The zone should encourage the creation of parking facilities, both lots and buildings and areas for tour busses and taxis.
• Servicing of Attractions is important, and the ability to schedule deliveries, waste managing and access to utility services are critical to the operation of Attractions.
Standards
• Criticism is the breakfast of champions. The Destination must maintain high standards of presentation and service if it is to succeed. A commitment to the creation and maintenance of standards is a must for a successful Destination.
Marketing
• What makes a zone successful is the variety of opportunities available within the zone. The aggressive marketing of the zone as a Destination is crucial. Individual Attractions within the zone must commit to being part of the marketing effort.
Legislative/Statutory Support
The legislative and statutory support of Government is assumed, but must be institutionalized, so that it survives changes in Government. The following specific concerns must be addressed:
• The establishment of a local administration with financial and administrative autonomy.
• Commitment to a 30-year Master Plan
• Procedure for access to the lease of public property
• Planning and Design guidelines, with local administration and procedures.
A Plan to Create Product
The Product in an Historic Zone is the stock of attractions that give access to the unique story of that zone. A Master Plan, conceived with the commitment to expose the elements of the story must anchor the development effort, and must provide the land use, circulation and density planning for the zone. The establishment of the zone must begin with an inventory of existing product material and extend the possibilities. While the development of Attractions must become the opportunity of any businessman, THE initial Attractions must be established at the outset. These initial Attractions are needed to “seed” the zone. They must provide both the models and the invitation for the development of other Attractions.
A Business Community Without Ego
Mutual support within the Destination is critical. Without it the Destination will not succeed, since the customer sees only whether the DEestination is fun, and does not differentiate between the successful Attractions and the bad ones. There must therefore be the development of standards of performance within the zone, with defined penalties for failure to maintain the standards.
This is the minimum requirements for the establishment of an historic zone called Old Nassau.

March 12, 2014
Patrick A. Rahming

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