There is perhaps nothing more disappointing than entering a city or location for the first time and seeing garbage filled streets, urban sprawl, and a lack of greenery. The physical appearance of a community impacts not only the way that both the local population and its visitors see the community and its image but also a community’s ability to market itself. Additionally, well-groomed locales tend to be not only safer locales, but promote a physically healthier population. In this post pandemic world where so many communities have suffered from the plague of Covid, beautification is an essential part of a locale’s efforts to lift spirits and begin to return to a state of normality.
Communities that hope to use travel and tourism as economic development tools would do well to consider some of the following points and then work at not only greening their communities but also their bottom lines.
Tourism beautification is not only about planting flowers and doing creative landscaping. It is more than merely cleaning the garbage that litters a community’s streets, it is also a prerequisite for safe streets and climate friendly economic development. Cities that fail to understand this point pay dearly by having to compensate for their lack of beauty by trying to bring in new businesses and tax-paying citizens through expensive economic incentive packages that almost never succeed. On the other hand, cities that have taken the time to beautify themselves often have people seeking to locate in their community.
Beautification helps a tourism entity grow by attracting more visitors, providing positive word of mouth publicity, creating an inviting environment that tends to lift the spirits of service personnel, and creates community pride often resulting in the lowering of crime rates.
Enhancing a locale’s appearance is also about the way that we treat our customer and our fellow citizens.
To help you deal with beautification projects here are some pointers to consider.
-Look at your community the way others may see it. All too often we become so accustomed to run down appearances, dirt, or lack of green spaces that we simply come to accept these eyesores as part of our urban or rural landscaping. Take the time to view your area through the eyes of a visitor. Are there dumpsites in clear view? How well are lawns kept? Do you collect garbage in a clean and efficient manner? Do your garbage trucks distract from a community’s quality of life or are they unassuming? Then ask yourself, would you want to visit this community?
-Entrances and exits are essential. Visitors’ opinions are formed by first and last impressions. Are your entrances and exits pretty or filled with billboards or other eyesores? These portals to your community provide visitors with an unconscious message. Clean entranceways and exits indicate that the person is entering a community that cares, ugly entranceways and exits indicate that this is a community that is seeking merely the visitors’ money. Take the time to visit your entrances and exits and then ask yourself with what impression do they leave you?
-Do not forget that airports and other transportation terminals are also entrances and exits. The appearance of these locations also matters. Too many terminals are simply functional at best and often eyesores. Can the terminal be made more eye-appealing with the use of creative painting, colors and plants?
-Involve the whole community/locale in beautification projects. Too many places have come to believe that beautification is the other person’s business. While governments must provide funding for major projects such as sidewalks or road reconstruction, there are a whole host of projects that local citizens can accomplish without government assistance. Among these are planting of gardens, cleaning of front yards, developing interesting street corners, creatively painting walls, and/or planting bushes to hide dumpsites.
-Choose one or two projects that are likely to succeed. Nothing succeeds like success, and beautification projects reflect as much about a community’s insides as outer appearances. If a community does not like itself, that will be manifested by the way it looks to visitors and possible business developers. Before beginning a beautification project, set do-able goals and then make sure that as many people as possible are enthusiastic about the project and reject negative thought. Beautiful places begin with community harmony.
-Make sure that your beautification projects fit your climate and terrain. A major mistake in beautification projects is trying to be what a locale is not. If you have a desert climate, then plant with water concerns in mind. If you have a cold climate, then seek ways to deal with not only a harsh winter climate but also in a manner to present a cheerful face during the gray winter months.
-Think of beautification as part of an economic development package. Remember that tax incentives can only do so much. No matter how much money a community offers in tax abatements quality of life issues will always have a major impact on where people choose to live and locate their businesses. Tourism demands that a community offer a clean and healthy environment, with good restaurants and places of lodging, fun things to do and good customer service. The way your community appears has a lot to do with the choices that business executives make regarding site selections.
-Involve local police and security professionals in the planning of your community’s beautification projects. The New York City experience ought to prove to everyone in tourism that there is a connection between quality-of-life issues and crime. The basic principle is that as communities seek ways to beautify themselves, crime decreases, and money used to fight crime can be redirected to quality-of-life issues. Although there are many reasons for the ups and down of New York’s crime we can note that when New York was clean and beautified crime dropped and unfortunately as the city became less beautiful, garbage was left uncollected, and graffiti became a problem crime rose. Policing tends to be reactive by nature; beautification projects are proactive. While pretty flowers beds and tree-lined boulevards will not prevent all crimes, the elimination of garbage along streets, unkempt lawns and shoddy structures does a great deal to lower crime rates.
-Never plan a beautification project without consulting with local law enforcement and security professionals. As important as beautification is to a community, there are correct and incorrect ways to accomplish it. CPTED is an acronym that stands for Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. Before beginning a beautification project always make sure that a CPTED specialist reviews the project.
-Not everything has to be done in one year. Beautification is reflected slow steady progress rather than rapid change. Do not try to accomplish more than the community is capable of within a short time frame. Better one successful project than a series of halfhearted failures. Remember that you are planting not only flower seeds but also the seeds of change and positive growth.