WTIC Helps Star Valley with Tourism Plan
WTIC representatives Chris Brown and Lynn Birleffi traveled to Star Valley in March, spoke to their Chamber of Commerce, met with local elected officials and visited a number of local tourism-related businesses at the request of the Star Valley Chamber of Commerce and Senator Dan Dockstader of Afton.
One purpose of the visit was to share best practices from other parts of the state about how to grow tourism in Star Valley. Star Valley is the northern part of Lincoln County located about 55 miles south of Jackson Hole. Thousands of tourists pass through the county on their way to the national parks and the area has incredible hiking, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and other recreational opportunities. Their challenge is the same faced by many smaller Wyoming communities - how to develop a focused plan to promote tourism and then get the funding to carry out the plan.
Brown and Birleffi shared with those they talked to on the trip the mission of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition, which is to increase the economic impact of the travel industry in Wyoming, provide resources for training, communication, education and act as the voice for the tourism industry on legislative and government issues affecting the industry.
The WTIC representatives also shared several observations that have been made by WTIC members during the previous year.
First, local tourism promotion is becoming more sophisticated, partly as a result of numerous resources and opportunities offered by the Wyoming Office of Tourism. WTIC encourages all communities to make their businesses aware of FREE opportunities through WOT, including complimentary listings for businesses and promotional packages on www.wyomingtourism.org (see wyomingofficeoftourism.gov for a complete list of cooperative programs).
Second, there are numerous paid advertising opportunities to advertise as a community, especially in WOT’s Travelers Journal and other private publications. Organizing private tourism-related businesses (hotels, outfitters, restaurants, etc.) to advertise together along with the local chamber or lodging tax board to create a half page or page featuring the entire area makes a lot of sense.
Third, forming a key leadership group such as a tourism council, that will drive development and promotion forward, is essential for any community. It could be a lodging tax board or if that is not an option, a local leadership group. The leadership group needs to develop a plan with a solid constituency and push hard to move it forward.
For now, a county-wide tax is not an option in Lincoln County but the mayors and county officials are looking at organizational options that could assist them to more effectively move tourism development forward.
There is new product development in Star Valley - new lodging facilities including condos, cabins, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.
Look for good things to come for Star Valley. Elected officials, businesses and the Star Valley Chamber are all working to develop a strong organization - formal or informal - to increase tourism revenue for the area.