Frequently Asked Questions

Your Questions, Answered

Am I the right person to initiate a process in my community?
YES! The answer is always yes. A community leader is anyone who recognizes an opportunity to make things better and steps forward to provide leadership to get something done. More often than not Crosscurrent is approached by local governments, land managers, destination organizations or agencies that have a stake in making a place better. But maybe you’re a volunteer trail builder, or you run a small farm. No matter what your role is in a community, where there’s a will there’s a way, and we will help you find your way.
Who should I involve in my project?
Consider all the people the project will affect, now and in the future. Many perspectives are required to develop a locally appropriate solution that improves a destination. Crosscurrent is adept at working with its clients to assess the landscape and then map stakeholder interests to determine who else should be involved – at the outset and throughout a process. We also coach clients to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in the decision-making process, and we can help clients develop an equity lens from the beginning. When thinking about tourism, it’s important to consider who has been impacted by tourism but may not yet have a seat at the table.
How do you define a “destination”?
Put yourself in the hiking boots of someone who’s coming to your community for the very first time. How would they describe where they’re going? What are the main experiences in the region that motivated their visit? And what is the geographic scope of their visit? Would your community be considered the destination, or would it be the river that runs through it, or the mountain range that rises behind it? There are no standards to what defines a “destination,” other than thinking about how travelers from far away might describe your place and what motivates them to come.

Destinations are not always defined by jurisdictional boundaries (city, county, province, state), and must be considered and crafted by looking at the geography of a place and how it interconnects, as well as how the communities are networked.

For example, you may have been to Costa Rica, but many people talk specifically about going to the Osa Peninsula. The Osa Peninsula is a destination comprised of elements that create a distinctive visitor region in and of itself. The collection of its amazing surf, diverse wildlife, chocolate farms and ecolodges together makes the Osa a destination. It’s not the town of Puerto Jimenez on the Osa, or the province of Puntarenas that would be considered the destination. Often the geography supersedes a political boundary in defining a region.

Here’s one more example. You may run a business in a small town adjacent to a National Wild and Scenic River, but that small town might not be the destination in and of itself. The destination is more likely the river – so, for example, you might be operating within a destination more aptly named the “John Day River Territory” or “the Rio Grande” – both destinations.
Why work at the destination scale?
In order to truly harness the power of outdoor recreation and tourism, it’s imperative to work at the landscape or destination scale. The power of our work lies in building collaborations that span a destination landscape – one that’s defined by the experience and natural travel patterns, not by jurisdictions such as city, county or state boundaries. Using this approach results in community leaders developing new relationships across a region that can drive innovative projects, protect the health of our ecosystems that are often not easily managed by individual jurisdictions, and improve the resiliency of individual communities and businesses. Much like biodiversity, communities too have a stronger chance of becoming resilient when they operate within a broader, more interconnected landscape.
What’s the difference between destination development and destination management?
Both these terms have grown in popularity and interest across the tourism industry over the last five to six years as community leaders and industry professionals realize that they need more than marketing to create sustainable travel destinations that benefit locals. Destination development and destination management are highly interrelated concepts, and in some instances you’ll hear them used interchangeably, but they do mean different things. Simply put:

Destination development is the act of improving the visitor experience within a destination. Synonyms to the word development include evolution, growth, maturing, success and progress. Developing a destination can take many forms – anything from improving the main street experience with better wayfinding to developing signature trails to designing car-free visitor transportation options that can make visiting a place feel seamless. In some communities growth may be one of the objectives, but in many cases development can simply mean making a place better in a way that the experience is enjoyable for both visitors and residents.

Destination management is the act of coordinating activities across multiple agencies and organizations to manage visitor impacts. What goes into the visitor experience in any given destination is complex. It comprises a multitude of inputs, from business services to public lands to local community infrastructure. When community leaders in a destination recognize that tourism is having negative impacts on the local community, it’s time to consider a management approach. Often, it’s places that receive a high volume of visitation that adopt a destination management approach. However, many nascent visitor destinations are now employing destination management principles at the outset, as they work to develop and grow their tourism economy in a way that won’t produce unintended negative consequences.
What if there are naysayers in my community?
Don’t worry – there are naysayers in every community! Don’t let that slow you down. There are always people in a community who want to maintain the status quo. They typically comprise about 10% of an average community. At the other end of the spectrum, another 10% have a vision of a more positive future and act on it. The remaining 80% are somewhere in the middle; the majority of them will support the 10% who are acting for a positive future. It’s important to value all perspectives in a community-based process, because often the values held by those who want things to remain the same are the values you want to ensure are preserved while moving ahead into the future.

Does Crosscurrent work with the for-profit sector?
Yes. Crosscurrent provides consulting and coaching to entrepreneurs who are beginning to work in the travel and tourism space. We connect businesses with pertinent travel and tourism trends in their target destinations, as well as linking them with national and global trends and information. Set up a consultation if you’re looking for guidance on how to begin a travel and tourism venture.

We also work with conscientious companies committed to environmental and social responsibility, helping them build strategic alliances with destinations where investments can improve outdoor recreation infrastructure or local livability. We’re in the business of facilitating new and innovative partnerships for the greater good. Please contact us to help you identify and navigate those possible alliances.
How does Crosscurrent embrace justice, equity, diversity and inclusion?
Crosscurrent is committed to creating an inclusive culture among our collective team of colleagues and our clients. We actively support involving and employing women, black, indigenous and people of color.

Supporting community-based planning and engagement as an approach to destination development and management is by design an equity approach. Through this work, we actively support clients in assessing who may be historically underrepresented or disenfranchised, and look for ways to engage with those people in appropriate ways. Additionally, we advocate for developing an equity lens at the start of our longer-term projects.

Read our justice, equity, diversity and inclusion statement on our About Us page.