The State of Wisconsin's spending to attract tourism recently increased from $1 million to more than $7 million per year. Many communities are finding themselves ill prepared and equipped to cope with the conflict between servicing of their traditional resident, business and commerce populations and their growing tourist populations. The result of this new interest in tourism can be, at once, a problem and an opportunity for small communities and rural areas in both traditional and non-traditional tourist destinations.

This paper describes a new Tourism Economic Development Study developed by University of Wisconsin-Stout and Wisconsin Bell Telephone Company for the purpose of defining community character and its role in tourism-based economic development. The study will focus upon the results of a tourism product survey in Door County, Wisconsin with additional comparisons to tourism attitudinal surveys in the coastal destinations of the Apostle Islands area, Marinette and Kewaunee Counties. A description of this methodology and sampling techniques will be discussed by the author. Since 1988 a random sample of approximately 7,000 residents, government and business leaders in nine existing or potential destinations have provided economic developers, tourism planners and citizens with a unique research instrument to assess the positive and negative attitudes toward tourism, hospitality, related businesses, and environmental impact of tourism. The data collected have given a new spatial, economic, social and political profile of a community's personality, (atmosphere, character and tone) and tourism product form offered to tourists. The methodology, administration and tourism product and presentation of this popular analytical research tool make it mandatory for any community involved in the pursuit, control or rejection of tourism.