Trail Friendly Business Program

About the Program

With its bucolic setting, quiet river nooks, booming mountain views, and quintessential Vermont villages, the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail is an amazing resource for Franklin County and the surrounding region. The trail provides a great amenity for the communities along it, but it also brings in visitors from outside the area to recreate and spend tourism dollars in the Missisquoi Valley. The Missisquoi Valley Trail Friendly Business (MVTFB) Program has been developed to better reach these potential visitors and entice them to spend more time—and money!—in the area. The FREE Trail Friendly Business Program is being rolled out alongside new branding, wayfinding, and marketing strategies for the trail. These elements are all designed to work together to drive more visitation to the trail.

Throughout the country, communities that embrace trail tourism have seen sustainable success:

  • In 2011, a Travel Oregon study found that bicycle travelers spent 20% more than their average visitor.

  • The 141-mile Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Pennsylvania, which has been very successful in its branding and marketing, hosts over 800,000 trips a year and generates over $40 million in direct annual spending.

  • A 2007 study on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail found that overnight visitors spent 7x more than day users.

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A 2020 survey of Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail users shows:

  • There are approximately 79,800 annual visits to the trail—including hikers, bikers, snowmobilers and others.

  • Approximately 20% of users are coming from outside the local region, but these visitors comprise 67% of the total trail user spending.

  • Only 5% of trail visitors have overnight stays in communities along the trail.

  • Currently, the trail generates approximately $1.9 million in estimated annual trail user spending.

  • A 20% growth in non-local visitors to the trail could increase annual visitor spending by as much as $285,000.

The MVTFB Program’s main objectives are to:

  1. Reach potential trail visitors with an online interactive map and a hard copy local business brochure that will be available at new trail kiosks at each community/trailhead. The map and brochure will highlight trail friendly businesses and help trail users find the services and businesses they desire while on the trail.

  2. Provide each participating business with a trail friendly business window cling that helps signal to trail users when they have arrived at each location.

  3. Provide tools and resources to participating businesses to help them attract trail visitors.

Who Can Participate?

The program is offered completely free of charge. For a business to participate, they must be a business with a physical location near the trail corridor and are open to the general public.

The types of businesses that can participate are:

  • Lodging: hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, etc.

  • Retail: general stores, markets, gas stations, bike shops, outdoor shops, clothing stores, galleries, etc.

  • Food and Drink: restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, wineries, etc.

  • Guiding Services: river tours, fishing guides, etc.

  • Other Trail User Services and Offerings: shuttle service, bike rental, museums, etc.

Requirements and Recommendations

Because the program is focused on enticing visitors to stay overnight along the trail, we ask that lodging/camping properties provide a few specific amenities:

  • A secure parking area for bikes (allowed inside the room or inside a secure storage room)

  • If providing camping, a dedicated camping area for people who arrive by bike without reservation

For restaurants and retail, here are a list of other recommended services that you could provide to trail guests:

  • Designated bike parking area (bike rack, secure courtyard)

  • Designated snowmobile parking during the winter

  • Water refills for trail users

  • Shipping for purchases

  • Basic tools for bike repair (pump, spare tubes, flat repair kit)/snowmobile repair

  • Energy bars or boxed meals for trail users

  • Cell phone charging station/wifi

  • Restroom(s)

  • Maps and other tourist-related information

Trail Friendly Business Checklist

A MVTFB Program checklist is available, which offers an easy-to-use tool for assessing how trail friendly your business is today, and for identifying steps to make trail users feel most welcome in the future. We recommend you utilize this checklist to audit your current operations. Depending on your location and type of business, some checklist items may not apply.


Click HERE to download the checklist to view or print.

How to Get Recognized as a Trail Friendly Business

Businesses need to follow these three simple steps:

Step 1: Know the program requirements and recommendations and utilize the Trail Friendly Business Checklist to identify ways your business could be more trail friendly.


Step 2: Fill out and submit the program questionnaire to provide us with the details about your business for the interactive map and trail friendly business brochure. Click HERE to complete the program questionnaire.
 

Step 3: Obtain your MVTFB window cling and program materials.
 

After your questionnaire has been submitted, please allow 30 days before your business is listed on the interactive map and your official MVTFB window clings and program materials are mailed out to you.
 

Thank you for your interest in the program. If you have any questions, please contact Amy Adams.