From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 39 - September 25, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Summer tourism was down

by Stephen Crane

The state of Wyoming saw a slight downturn in tourism this summer, and Pinedale was no exception. While Yellowstone had a record number of visitors, the rest of the state was down about 5 percent, according to recent numbers from the state tourism and marketing conference.

“I’d say we were pretty comparable to the rest of the state,” said Mindi Crabb, marketing director for the Sublette County Joint Tourism Promotion Board. “Our numbers were down, but last year was a record year, so it’s expected.”

In order to fill hotel rooms, the Pinedale area continues to rely heavily on the energy companies. This sometimes makes it difficult for travelers and tourists to find a vacancy, particularly during the weekdays, when sub-contractors inhabit the hotel rooms and return home on weekends.

“What we’ve seen is that we’re transitioning,” said Crabb. “We haven’t really had a lot of rooms available for tourists. So we’re working on filling those weekend gaps.”

But with the new Record of Decision for the Pinedale Anticline comes year-round drilling practices, which has many of the companies starting to seek alternative housing.

Scheduled to open on May 15, the Hampton Inn currently being built on the west end of Pinedale will also provide over 100 more rooms in the area, which should alleviate some of the overcrowding.

The lodging tax is on the ballot again this year, which funds the budget of the tourism board. First added to the ballot in 2000, the lodging tax adds an additional 3 percent to the bill of anyone staying in hotels, motels and inns.

“We say that it’s a tax that locals don’t pay,” said Mary Thompson, chairperson of the tourism board. “That’s simplifying it, but it’s true.”

Last year, the tax brought in approximately $260,000, which went directly to the tourism board to promote recreation and tourism in Sublette County.

The board used the money to help sponsor a number of area events, including the Green River Rendezvous Pageant, the Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race and the Wyoming Senior Winter Games, among others.

It also advertises regionally and nationally in a variety of magazines and publications, such as Outdoor Photography, True West Magazine, Jackson Hole Skier Magazine and Wyoming Public Radio.

The board also provides a grant program to area programs that help bring people into the county.

“We give out almost $30,000 per year for local event committees to advertise their events,” said Crabb.

Most recently, Crabb has been working with National Geographic on a project that will highlight the region, including the storied history of Sublette County.

Called a geo-tourism map guide, the project will produce an in-depth look at the Yellowstone ecosystem and will showcase the various sites of historical significance within that expansive area.

“It’s not your traditional road map,” said Crabb. “This is a map that talks about the sense of place, showing what this place means to the local people and the surrounding communities.”

After asking local communities to nominate people and places to highlight from the region, a committee had the daunting task of choosing 150 from over 800 nominations. By Nov. 30, a rough draft should be finished, complete with text and photos of the Yellowstone region.

“If we can fund and develop projects that will have a long-term impact, that would bring even more recognition to the area,” said Crabb.

For the tourism board, projects like this will only heighten awareness and bring new faces into the area.

“Since before the turn of the last century, people came here to see how beautiful it was,” said Thompson. “Tourism is historically one of the most dominant uses that we see in Sublette County.”

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