Partnerships for Washington State’s Cascade Loop Heritage Tour

Strategy: Balance Your Budget, Collaborate in New Ways, Enhance Your Product, Serve Local Community, Take Advantage of Tech

Type of attraction: Arts Organization, Heritage Area/Scenic Byway/Heritage Trail, Tourism Organization

Summary: In times of diminished resources, partnerships can often yield results that organizations would not have been able to accomplish on their own.

In times of diminished resources, partnerships can often yield results that organizations would not have been able to accomplish on their own. In Washington state, Northwest Heritage Resources collaborated with the Cascade Loop Association to develop and market audio tours for the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway. This 440-mile-long byway extends over two mountain passes from Puget Sound to the fertile farmland in central Washington. “Collaborating enabled us to take advantage of the different resources and sources of support that both organizations had access to,” notes Jill Linzee, executive director of Northwest Heritage Resources. “Partnering with a tourism organization let us consolidate resources in a positive way. We were also able to provide our tourism partner with a fresh and very different approach that brought out new aspects of the Cascade Loop experience beyond the natural beauty and the ‘usual suspects’ of local history museums and historic sites.”

Working with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Washington State Tourism, an audio tour for the southern portion of the loop was completed in February 2010. Linzee explains: “The tour focuses on the local cultural communities, the people who make up the many different occupational and ethnic communities along the Cascade Loop. As you take the tour you are listening to traditional music, folk poetry and the stories of people who live and work in this region.” The audio part of the tour includes the voices of a local fruit orchardist, a logger poet, a river rafter, a forest service employee, Mexican-American mariachi musicians, a chainsaw carver and many others.”

 The impacts of the economic downturn became even more pronounced in 2010 as the two organizations began to work together on an audio tour for the northern portion of the Cascade Loop.  After looking at other ways to reduce production costs, the 50-page printed guidebook which accompanied the audio tour for the southern part of the loop will be replaced with extensive liner notes (printed text, photos and graphics provided with recordings) to accompany the northern section CDs.   The audio tours are sold online as both guidebooks with CDs and as digital downloads as well as being sold in retail outlets along the byway, providing a source of revenue that helps offset the project’s production costs. Tour-goers can purchase the full tour or selectively purchase individual MP3 tracks through Apple iTunes, Napster and other digital download websites.

 

Efforts are underway to market the audio tours as a “staycation” opportunity for Washington residents.  For example, organizers plan to market the tours at Seattle’s Green Festival, an event that offers opportunities to “…showcase programs and products that restore the planet and all that inhabit it.” (www.greenfestival.org).   Not only is vacationing locally easier on your wallet, it also has a lower environmental impact and thus is a more responsible and sustainable way to travel.  For more information: see www.northwestheritageresources.org or www.cascadeloop.com.