Tourists are coming to Oak Park for Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. But they aren’t hanging around to see other notable attractions. That’s one of the findings of a tourism study the village recently conducted.

The “Heritage Tourism Study” was initiated during the village’s 2007 budget process (at about $25,000), after it was requested by 10 different local organizations tied to tourism. It was conducted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The study involved assessing the village’s attractions and business districts, interviewing stakeholders in the Oak Park tourism industry, and reviewing available marketing and demographic data.

The study was designed to help enhance tourism by promoting Oak Park’s culture and history. The village board was scheduled to hear a presentation on the study and formally accept it Tuesday night, after Wednesday Journal’s deadline.

Short term recommendations in the study include creating “tourism business districts” that charged a “tourism tax” which would help fund tourism initiatives. Others suggestions were strengthening and expanding Oak Park’s walking tours and shuttle services, developing new lodging facilities, creating high-quality orientation films to show at the visitor’s center, and strengthening the village’s tourism-related signage.

Rich Carollo, president and CEO of the Oak Park Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, has pushed for updating signs around Oak Park. He feels signs, like one outside the Carleton Hotel, are too vague and uninformative.

“The signage we have now was well-intentioned but doesn’t work, necessarily, as well as it could,” he said. “There needs to be some thorough review to create something that’s more useful and characteristic of our village.”

The study also advocates creating a community-wide branding of Oak Park-perhaps creating a slogan, logo, and brand identity for the village. Carollo agrees and said his organization is working towards instituting a “branding study” to help create a new look and feel for Oak Park.

“It’s a long, expensive process, but you don’t do it every year,” Carollo said. “What I hope would come out of it is something that people can raise up and put their arms around.”

Preliminary work on the study will start this year, and it will likely roll out in 2009.

Carollo would also like to see Oak Park do more to highlight its other attractions outside Hemingway and Wright, like the conservatory and Pleasant Home.

Some long-term recommendations in the study include expanding the visitors center, instituting long-term funding for the visitor’s bureau (instead of year-by-year) so the organization can better plan for the future, and centralizing the Hemingway birthplace and museum to “create a more efficient layout for the museum.”

Carollo feels it was important for Oak Park to hear a professional, outsider’s perspective on how to strengthen tourism in the village.

“Generally when a third party comes in with different eyes and tells you something, it tends to carry a little more weight than some local organization that tells you the same thing over and over,” he said.

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