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041012 WTIC Member News Across State
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WTIC Member News

Jackson Looks to Take Advantage of Strong International Market

Jackson Hole organizations are beefing up efforts to attract the world's travelers to the region. U.S. Commerce Department data says international tourists spent a record $153 billion on trips to American destinations last year.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce hopes to put Teton County on the list of locations foreign travelers consider when they plan a trip to the states.
Chamber staff plan to attend large international shows in Berlin and London in the fall to promote Jackson Hole tourism.

Holly Pratt of the Wyoming Council for International Visitors tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide ( ) that the Jackson area offers many things attractive to visitors from around the world.

Buffalo Lodging Tax up 15% (adapted from the Buffalo Bulletin, March 2012)

“I think a lot of the increase is because of our advertising campaigns,” said Angela Jarvis, Buffalo Chamber of Commerce executive director and administrator for the Johnson County lodging tax board.

“The board has chosen different venues in the past. Combined with our advertising and the board’s, we have 31 billboards promoting Buffalo--a few in South Dakota and the rest in Wyoming.”

In addition to the billboards, Jarvis said Johnson County is now being advertised in True West magazine, which targets couples who earn $150,000 or more and individuals with a $100,000 income or more and who are interested in the Western culture. Jarvis said Johnson County has also become an interested participant in Rocky Mountain International, an organization that coordinates international tourism for Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota. 

“The number of tourists from Europe has increased 60 percent in the years we’ve been going to RMl;” Jarvis said, “This year it will be here, You can talk about how great Buffalo is, but until you experience the area, it makes it hard.  We have to get them here to experience it.

Nancy VanDer Ploeg, co-owner of the Comfort Inn and lodging tax board member, attributes the lodging tax collection increase to the economy and the weather. But she said the increase in collections doesn’t necessarily mean things are great for the hotel and motel business.

“My opinion is that in the last few years, we’ve stumbled through high gas prices and unemployment,” VanDer Ploeg said. “Tourism really fell. Now, it its holding steady – not that we’ve had a great rise, but we are coming up out of the slump.”

Events like the recent high school basketball state tournaments in Casper caused hotels in the area to overflow into the Buffalo area. And VanDer Ploeg said the mild weather the area has experienced is also a factor.

“l think the weather plays a big role,” VanDer Ploeg said. “I wish I could say we are seeing a lot of tourists, but I think it’s just getting back up to a normal winter. And when that happens, the hotels, campgrounds and dude ranches are able to hold their room rates...that keeps that 2 percent collection at a higher rate. If anything, through this winter, we’ve been able to hold our room rates and not had to do severe room rate decreases. It really is amazing what makes one week good. One night we may have 20 rooms out, and you think, ‘Where did that come from?”

Wind River Visitors Council Head Talks Tourism (adapted from the Lander Journal, Mar. 2012)

Paula McCormick of McCormick Marketing, Inc., who also manages the Wind River Visitors Council, reminded a community organization of the importance of tourism, an industry that brought $129 million to Fremont County in 2010.

McCormick spoke at the monthly Lander Enterprises and Development of Economic Resources (LEADER) gathering. She began by presenting numbers compiled by the Wyoming Economic Development Authority from 2010 on tourism’s impact in Fremont County.

According to the report, the largest tourist expenditure was $33.2 million on transportation like gas or rental vehicles. That was followed by restaurant spending at $25.9 million, then arts/entertainment at $20.9 million and shopping at $18.7 million.

“That $18 million for shopping is a big number,” McCormick said.

She also provided 2010 numbers that showed 1620 people in the county were employed in the tourism industry, receiving over $42 million in wages.

Baseball Back in Casper

Baseball will be played in Casper this summer, although it will be different in some ways. The Casper Cutthroats will begin their inaugural season this June at Mike Lansing Field. The team is part of the Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, which consists of college players from across the country, playing wood-bat ball. Aaron McCreight of the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, is one of the co-owners of the team. He says bringing in the new club should help baseball fans forget about the sense of loss that they felt, when the Casper Ghosts left town.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center Gets New Collection

The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, houses one of the most remarkable collections of firearms in the world. This gallery features more than 6,500 historically significant firearms dating from the mid-1400s through the present day. The extraordinary gun collection is seen by up to a quarter of a million visitors annually. Beginning April 29 and continuing into early 2013, the museum displays selected examples of extraordinary guns from the renowned private collection of Wes Adams of Nevada. “The guns from the Wes Adams collection are the most remarkable blend of firearms technology and decorative artistry I have ever had the opportunity to see,” says Bruce Eldredge, Executive Director of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. “It is a real privilege to have these firearms on exhibit to be seen by the public.”

Carbon County Higher Education Center’s Celebration of Wind will take on a new look this year with a photo contest and wind racer competition. Photos that creatively capture wind will be displayed during a gallery showing on Saturday, April 28 from 11 am-2 pm at the new CCHEC Creative Arts Studio. All ages and talent ranges are encouraged to submit a photo. There will also be a wind racer competition on Saturday, April 28 at 10 am on Locust Street in Rawlins. Winners of both contests will receive cash prizes.

For more information on the Celebration of Wind, visit or call 307-328-9274.

FREE Coal Mine Tours -  Gillette

In Gillette, experience the FREE summer coal mine tours at Alpha Coal’s Eagle Butte Mine, Monday through Friday, 9am and 11am, starting Tuesday, June 5, through Friday, August 17th. Book your reservations through the Gillette Visitor Center, 307-686-0040.

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