You know, every spring when I see business picking up around town and the first visitors coming in, I marvel at the way that tourism affects EVERYONE in our little town. And I was fortunate enough to spend a couple days this week in the state capitol of Cheyenne, learning more about how our state as a whole benefits from the tourism industry.
Living in Cody for as long as I have, I witness every year how important tourism is to our local economy. Did you know that around a million people went through Park County last year? Holy cow! And what did those people do while they were here?
Well, they bought gas. They replenished their supplies. They stayed overnight in a motel or campground. They went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and learned about Buffalo Bill and grizzly bears (not that Bill had any direct encounters himself, but I digress…). They experienced their first rodeo. They were entertained at the downtown gunfight and the Dan Miller Cowboy Music Revue. They bought their first pair of cowboy boots. They had their oil changed and their vehicles repaired. They bought and sent postcards to friends and family.
Now think about what those actions mean to the local economy – even those businesses that aren’t geared specifically to tourism benefit from the money that the visitors spend here! Think about it – the tips that the waitress at Cassie’s made will help her pay her electric bill. The extra hours that the mechanic puts in fixing the transmission of the RV that broke down means that he can buy that new TV his family has been asking for. It all trickles down!
So back to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Each year the Wyoming Office of Tourism, along with the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, hosts a conference that brings together marketing councils, hotel operators, owners of local attractions, and others who rely on tourism for their livelihood. They visit with the their legislators (because the conference happens during the legislative session), they network, they learn about industry trends and how they can reach more people and attract more visitors to their particular corner of Wyoming. Which, in turn, helps to grow Wyoming’s second-largest industry (tourism, of course!), and the whole state benefits.
One of the things that I learned at the conference is how important word-of-mouth is in influencing others to visit a community or an attraction. So that’s my advice to you this week – tell your friends and family all about WHY you love living and vacationing in Wyoming! Do your part to stimulate the local economy!
Until next week, I’ll be here, lovin’ life in Buffalo Bill’s Country!