Refereed academic paper for presentation
Understanding the connections that visitors and residents have to places is critically important for tourism development. Aided with this knowledge, authentic experiences can be developed, stories can be uncovered and told, and resident perspectives can be identified. This paper describes a case study to uncover and map place attachment in three small cities in Western Canada. The project was conducted in the cities of Courtenay, Port Alberni and Nanaimo, BC. A one day “walk about” in each community was used to record 1.5 minute videos (n=85) of residents speaking about a place in their downtown core where they felt connected to. These videos were then uploaded to Arc GIS resulting in the first layer of a dynamic map for each community. Findings were analyzed using content analysis and data visualization techniques. Some of the opportunities emerging from this project for tourism researchers include: a) engaging visitors in sharing the places they feel connected to in the communities they travel to, b) creating more dynamic maps of destinations with layers that reveal deeper, more authentic meaning of place, and c) using this new knowledge to position tourism as a critical component in municipal planning and to embed highly valued places within tourism development planning.