Rural Tourism Development

Develop a Rural Tourism Plan for Your Community

Plan, develop, and implement rural tourism projects with evidence-informed processes that support local entrepreneurship, foster community collaboration, and develop local workforce opportunities. 

The I-Rural project can help rural communities in Illinois design and implement a model that can guide tourism development. This program was developed by inspecting challenges and opportunities present in several Illinois communities seeking to develop rural tourism and investigating tourists’ motivations and constraints to engaging in Illinois rural tourism. The iRural toolkit's evidence-informed process integrates insights from tourists and community stakeholders to help rural communities plan, develop, and implement their own tourism projects.

Toolkit Overview

The I-Rural Toolkit walks community leaders through a step-by-step process for evaluating current assets and developing a future vision of what tourism might look like in the community. The toolkit includes templates for leading community meetings, brainstorming strategies for tourism development, interviewing stakeholders, and surveying visitors.

Download the I-Rural Toolkit

Each section includes a template that can be tailored to meet the needs of your community. In addition to these resources, be sure to contact your local Illinois Extension agent for their insights and support.

About the Project

This project was funded by an Extension Collaboration Grant, which receives financial support from University of Illinois’ Office of the Provost Investment for Growth Program and Illinois Extension. We are grateful for valuable project leadership from College of Applied Health Sciences.

Principal Investigator

Joelle Soulard, Ph.D., Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, College of Applied Health Sciences

Co-Principal Investigators

Suiwen (Sharon) Zou, Ph.D., Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, College of Applied Health Sciences Jennifer Russell, Illinois Extension Community and Economic Development

Extension Collaborators

Laura Payne, Ph.D., Earl Allen, Alexandra Burbach, Mike Delany, Margaret Larson, Janice McCoy, Nancy Ouedraogo, and Richard Proffer Other Collaborators Carla Santos, Ph.D., Jason Beverlin, Kathie Brown, Roger Carmack, Brenda Davenport-Fornoff, Mark Moran, Brenda Stadsholt, and Barbara Strack


Connect With Our Staff

Laura Payne

Laura Payne

Professor, Extension Specialist, Director of the Office of Recreation & Park Resources (ORPR)
Community Planning
Community Development
Nancy Ouedraogo

Nancy Ouedraogo

Extension State Specialist, Community Economic Development
Local Government
Community Development
Community Planning