Volume 104, Number 29 - July 19, 2007
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Tourism Board open for suggestions
The Sublette County Joint Tourism Promotion Board (JTPB), having just released the summary of its activities for the 2006-07 fiscal year, will hold a meeting on July 21 at 7 p.m. at the Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce to discuss plans for the next fiscal year. The meeting will open with a hearing for public commentary and follow with a grant hearing.
Mindi Crabb, the board’s marketing director, said she simply hopes people in the tourism industry will have time to drop by to give suggestions.
“One thing that could happen is people might not understand the need for the lodging tax to continue,” Crabb said, referring to the tax enacted in 2001 to fund the JTPB’s formation and its various projects. “We think it’s very critical. With the new boom, we have an extra 220 hotel rooms built in the community. They’re currently filled with gas workers, but if the boom were a bust or these guys find other accommodations, which eventually will happen as they assimilate in the community to a greater degree, we will have a greater number of rooms to fill.”
But there’s no denying that for the time being, especially in the spring and summer months, the majority of hotel rooms in Sublette County are full.
Facing this reality, the board will strive to direct the next fiscal budget toward longterm projects that will benefit years from now when more accommodations should be available, and also which focus on the natural tourist attractions that might have to survive the oil industry one day, Crabb said. Plans include increasing exposure to the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway that starts or ends in Pinedale and loops through Jackson to Dubois, as well as sponsoring a PBS wildlife series that covers the area, which will rerun and attract tourists for multiple seasons.
The board will also try to land advertising in magazines like Outdoor Photographer and Backpacker Magazine, in addition to continuing advertising in TrueWest, Sky West and SnoWest, which has rated Sublette County one of the top 10 hiking areas in the country. John Godfrey, JTPB chairman, said the board will also invest in making the new Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce as user-friendly as possible.
Anyone who wanders through the glass door after October asking about outdoor recreation will find answers in a referenceand media room, complete with high-definition DVDS that highlight local wildlife, hiking, hunting and fishing, and feature an “entirely shock and awe display” of what the county offers in general, Godfrey said. “Instead of trying to explain what there is to do, we can show them,” Godfrey said. At the grant hearing portion of the July 21 meeting, local organizations, not-forprofits,businessmen and youth groups can request grants for events and attractions they anticipate will bring overnight visitors to Sublette County.
The most lucrative tourist attractions inthe 2006-07 fiscal year that Godfrey anticipates repeating include the Pinedale Half Marathon, various FFA programs and snowmobile races, which occur in both winter and spring, when racers wet down grass and zoom across green fields.
Godfrey said that nearly equal to the success of the construction of the new Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce building, the board’s “shining star” this past fiscal year was the new county Web site, www.MountManCountry.com.
The Web site, which cost $25,860, replaced the county’s previous marketing method of mailing an armful of brochures to anyone interested in visiting, and responds to statistics that 80 percent of potential tourists look online to make vacation decisions. The site attracts 500 hits a day, and the board will fund more updates this next fiscal year.
Crabb said the board is happy to have the tools for maintaining the county’s primary economic industry, which existed long before the oil and gas boom.
“We will continue to promote the best that Sublette County has to offer in a responsible manner and looking to the long-term sustainability of tourism,” she said.
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