Bike Tourism 101


At it’s most basic, Bicycle Tourism is a strikingly simple idea. Encourage people on bikes to travel to or through your community, invite them to stay the night or eat a meal or visit the local museum, and rake in the economic benefits.

The reality is that it’s really just that simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy, and it’s important to develop thoughtful offerings, welcome new visitors, and reach out to the right people.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the concept of Bike Tourism grow from a seed of an idea to something that’s studied and measured in destinations across the world. The bicycle industry is leaning on adventure travel to sell new products, and an ever-increasing number of success stories prove that bicycling is no longer a niche activity.

• In 2012, Travel Oregon commissioned an economic impact study of bicycle-related travel throughout the state. The results came back to the tune of $400 Million per year.

• In 2011, Iowa released the results of their study, which showed an annual economic impact of $365 Million.

• At the 2015 National Bicycle Tourism Conference, representatives from the Great Allegheny Passage relayed that the car-free rail trail annually attracts 1 Million visitors and generates $100 Million in economic impact.

Increasingly, communities are using Bicycle Tourism to spur economic development. And the results are encouraging – for both likely and unlikely destinations.

However, as Bike Tourism grows, it’s not enough to just say “Bicycling Happens Here,” and hope that visitors will flock to your destination. Routes need to be carefully curated, information needs to be easily accessible, residents need to be supportive and welcoming, and marketing campaigns need to be targeted and savvy.

That said, we encourage communities to start from where they are now. Focus on offering essential services (like food and lodging), for example, before building an extensive signature route program.

For further information, check out the following blog posts:
What is Bicycle Tourism
5 Reasons Why Bicycle Tourism Matters
5 Ways Bicycle Travel and Touring Are Changing
If You Sign It Will They Come: The Old West Scenic Bikeway A Year Later
Bicycling and the New Gold Rush
Video Interview with Bill White
All #BikeTourism Posts

Contact us about developing your bike tourism destination.

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