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Announcing Fort Wayne’s Tourism Master Plan

Visit Fort Wayne, the official Convention and Visitors Bureau for Fort Wayne/ Allen County, is proud to announce the release of the Tourism Master Plan, following a year-long effort including community surveys, stakeholder conversations, and research. This 10-year vision represents a blueprint that positions a growing visitor economy as a catalyst for post-Covid recovery in the tourism industry, recognizes underserved areas of our community, and builds upon our quality of life for residents in Allen County.

The Tourism Master Plan takes a forward-looking approach to building a well-rounded and diverse tourism industry for the future of our community. Allen County has seen incredible growth in this last decade, and we have an opportunity to continue to build upon our community through the power of tourism.

Rooted in conversations with the community and residents, the Tourism Master Plan followed a 20-week process, including five different objectives:

  • Destination Assessment
  • Engaging our Partners
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Visioning Workshops
  • Developing the Master Plan

The Tourism Master Plan process was facilitated by CSL International’s Tourism Strategy Practice, and supported by a Steering Committee, including: Jill Boggs, Visit Fort Wayne; Therese Brown, Allen County Commissioners; Kathy Callen, Community Advocate; Melanie Carney, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum; Jim Cook, Allen County Capital Improvement Board; Ellen Cutter, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.; Joe Giant, City of Fort Wayne Division of Community Development; Kristen Guthrie, Visit Fort Wayne; Bart Shaw, Grand Wayne Convention Center; Nancy Townsend, City of Fort Wayne Division of Community Development; John Urbahns, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.; Pone Vongphachanh, City of New Haven.

Richard Cutting-Miller, CSL International’s Vice President of Tourism Strategy said, “We extend our deepest gratitude to everyone involved in bringing this process to fruition. Their dedication, insight, and tireless work have been instrumental in crafting a plan that addresses every facet of tourism in the region. From enhancing the riverfront to promoting arts, culture, sports, and more, this plan lays out a roadmap for sustainable growth and enhanced visitor experiences. As Fort Wayne / Allen County moves forward, they are committed to implementing this comprehensive strategy, ensuring that Fort Wayne and Allen County emerge as a beacon of hospitality, innovation, and community spirit. Join us as we celebrate this exciting journey, creating a legacy that will benefit both visitors and residents for years to come.”

Details of the Tourism Master Plan:

The plan outlines 20 recommendations prioritized into six strategic focus areas, including:

  1. Foundational: How do we define and deliver on becoming an accessible destination – a foundational value our community identifies as the underlying basis for all we believe and all we do?
  2. Downtown Fort Wayne: How do we continue to create a uniquely connected, walkable, and entertaining place for residents and visitors to enjoy now, and for generations to come in Downtown Fort Wayne?
  3. Group Business: How do we continue to elevate Fort Wayne/Allen County’s facilities and venues as destinations to host premier conferences, meetings, conventions, tournaments and events for business and leisure travelers?
  4. Regional Tourism Development: How do we collaborate county-wide to attract economic development that delivers high-quality tourism assets and experiences to enhance the quality of life for residents, spreads visitor impact, and celebrates our community’s unique personality and flavors?
  5. Riverfront Development: How do we continue to create beautiful and recreational experiences along Fort Wayne/Allen County’s natural assets – our rivers – that inspire, entertain, and bring both residents and visitors back time and time again?
  6. Tourism Product Development: How do we continue to innovate, develop, and deliver major infrastructure, large-scale projects, events/festivals, and tourism operations/services that deliver a high-quality and cultural experience for residents and visitors, including the necessary support to realize these visions?
  7. What’s Next: The Tourism Master Plan will be implemented through phases of work in partnership with the appropriate organizations, government agencies, and community partners.

Visit Fort Wayne is assigned to lead eight of the recommendations and committed to working on four of the projects this year, including Accessibility, Music Economy, Sports Entity, and Hospitality Labor Shortage.

The Executive Summary and detailed information about the Tourism Master Plan, including its recommendations, timeline, and updates, can be found at VisitFortWayne.com/TourismMasterPlan.

The Tourism Master Plan is Visit Fort Wayne’s promise to our community to be the driving force in creating and cultivating a rich, diverse, and inclusive destination experience, and growing our tourism economy not only for the benefit of visitors but for the enrichment of our community, our neighbors – our quality of life.

The Waynedale News Staff
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