Economic Development & Tourism Goal 4
Ensure that visitors to Shepherdstown are warmly welcomed in the community and are provided with a unique and memorable experience.
4.1 Develop a proactive Tourism Plan
STRATEGY: Develop an action oriented tourism marketing plan with input from all sectors of the local tourism community that examines existing tourism related sites, historic resources, activities and businesses in the area, with accompanying recommendations and materials for a marketing and promotions package for Shepherdstown.
JUSTIFICATION: Shepherdstown has benefited from well-advertised and well-known events that are frequently reported in local and regional news media, journals and other publications. However, a more targeted and proactive approach is needed to encourage new and former tourists to choose Shepherdstown as a destination for a weekend getaway or day trip. This plan would benefit from information related to the business and recruitment strategy and should begin after that strategy and study is completed.
4.2 Assessment of Local Lodging Opportunities
STRATEGY: Work with the business community to develop an analysis of existing lodging facilities in the area to determine if there are any gaps in the availability of rooms, including short-term / vacation rentals at the relevant market price points and amenity levels to accommodate the needs of a wide range of tourists.
JUSTIFICATION: The development of an assessment of the current state of the lodging sector in the local area will help the business community identify any opportunities that exist to expand or modify existing establishments to better meet demand, or to build new establishments to capture market share that is currently choosing lodging options in other communities due to the lack of accommodations that meet their needs in Shepherdstown. This type of assessment will also allow the town to better understand the needs to modify or expand its regulations related to short term or vacation rentals, and give property owners better information about this segment of the market and whether they might be able to monetize their properties by converting it for this purpose. Capturing a greater share of the market for overnight accommodations in the area will help to support the local economy by encouraging a larger number of longer stays in the community, thereby supporting associated businesses that cater to tourists, particularly in the food service and entertainment sectors.
4.3 Promote Outdoor Recreation
STRATEGY: Work collaboratively with regional stakeholders to promote the availability of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area.
JUSTIFICATION: The full potential of Shepherdstown’s location and available outdoor recreation opportunities has not been attained. An opportunity exists to raise awareness and promote outdoor recreation with other existing events and opportunities within Shepherdstown in a more formalized way as many visitors have discovered over the years. Comprehensive vacation packages could include cycling, theatrical and musical events and festivals, along with historical tours.
4.4 Develop a Comprehensive Parking and Wayfinding Strategy
STRATEGY: Work with local businesses, organizations and the visitors center to develop a comprehensive parking strategy for tourists that includes online mapping and directions for parking, a parking pass program for tourists, potential tourist friendly policies for parking enforcement, and a unified wayfinding program with Shepherd University that identifies key destinations and parking areas for Shepherdstown and Shepherd University.
JUSTIFICATION: Improvements are needed to guide potential tourists to key locations and parking areas in Town and on Shepherd University in a clear and consistent manner. The opportunity exists for the University to work collaboratively with the Town on a unifying wayfinding sign design and the identification of the most important destinations to ensure that the experience is seamless for all visitors to Shepherdstown and Shepherd University. The wayfinding program needs to be translated to online resources as well to help visitors plan their visit ahead of time. The Town and University need to identify parking policies and areas together to help ensure that visitors clearly understand where public parking is available.
4.5 Tourism Ambassador Program
STRATEGY: Work with local tourism, history and business groups to develop an “ambassador” program that would use volunteers to interact with visitors in the downtown area on weekends, major events, first year or transfer student orientation days, and during peak tourism season to offer advice, provide historic perspectives, distribute discounts for local businesses, answer parking questions and perform similar duties.
JUSTIFICATION: Ensuring visitors have a positive and memorable experience will help Shepherdstown retain and attract businesses and more tourists. This program can also provide for coordination among many organizations in Town, creating an atmosphere for additional collaboration between businesses, tourism interest, historical groups, arts organizations and other interests in Town toward realizing a common goal of improving the visitor experience in Shepherdstown. This program could include volunteers dressed as important historical figures to add to the visitors experience and entertainment.
4.6 Public Restroom Downtown
STRATEGY: Explore opportunities to develop a downtown public restroom facility in a convenient location that is accessible to visitors.
JUSTIFICATION: Access to public restrooms will improve the visitor experience as some businesses have limited use of bathrooms for the general public, especially during major events.
4.7 Secure Bicycle Storage in Downtown
STRATEGY: Develop a secure public bicycle storage facility in a downtown location where bicyclist with large amounts of gear can safely store their bikes.
JUSTIFICATION: Shepherdstown is often a destination for bicyclists that are passing through along regional trails. Secure and convenient storage boxes or facilities for bikers with these storage needs will help encourage more bicyclists to choose Shepherdstown as a destination, while potentially generating more foot traffic for local businesses and overnight stays.