Cultural heritage tourism is considered a driver for community revitalization. Enhancing quality of life through economic empowerment of local communities is therefore central to the promotion of cultural heritage tourism in Punjab. Research shows that initiatives in cultural heritage tourism management developed with active participation of the local communities - giving them stakes in the business value chains - stimulate livelihoods, civic pride, social capital and social cohesion.It is widely accepted among tourism experts and destination practitioners that sustainable and profitable tourism requires involvement of local residents in the plannng process. The local authorities will ensure that tourism development results in more economic benefits than costs for local communities. In addition, bringing centrality of public interests in the development of heritage sites promotes trust and ownership. It is the responsibility of government actors to ensure proper exchange of information with local communities, inlcuding clarity on tourism policy decisions and issues that impact lives of the communities. This can only be achieved if the government works through a collaborative approach acting as a broker of profitable partnerships between local community and private sector .
The overall aim of Community Awareness and Outreach Strategy is to facilitate mobilization of vibrant community partnerships through which local people and businesses are proud to work together to economically profit from cultural heritage tourism. Initially, the focus of implementation remains in the geographic areas around the flagship sites alongwith provicial-level support for engagement and outreach.
The multi-layered objectives of Community Awareness and Outreach Strategy are to:
- Consult, sensitize, engage, and proactively involve local communities to appreciate the economic value of shared cultural heritage assets and collaborate in the management and delivery of cultural heritage tourism products and services as partners in developing local tourism markets
- Promote inclusion, reaching out to youth and women, educating and mobilizing them on how to participate in entrepreneurship and small business opportunities, emphasizing the benefits of social and cultural heritage gains through ‘pro-poor tourism’ development
- Incentivize local crafts and skills development entrepreneurial activity around the cultural heritage sites to harness and sustain creative economy, building synergies with private sector players to stimulating demand and market development of cultural heritage tourism at national and regional level
- Advocate support from the local governments and stakeholders (e.g Local Arts Council) to include cultural heritage tourism business entrepreneurship in their annual development plans, allocating budgets for skills enhancement and vocational training. This would support growth of small businesses ventures and tourism opportunities around the flagship heritage sites, revitalizing local neighborhoods as small business incubation centers.