The Seeds of Tourism Planted at RMI
(from the Buffalo Bulletin)
As the fallow field is revived with seed, there's a sense of hope that the sweat and toll shown in the spring will reap a bountiful harvest come fall. Timing is everything. Plant too early and you risk a killing frost. Plant too late and the heat has the chance to wither the fruit on the vine.
In much the same way tourism seeds were planted in late April in Johnson County dunng the Rocky Mountain International Roundup. Foreign tour operators from around the globe met in Buffalo with travel and hospitality representatives. The idea was to sell the Old West as a destination point - a place for people from Europe, Scandinavia and Asia to soak up Western history and hospitality.
Those seeds have been broadcast. Now it's time to sit back and see what grows. Buffalo Chamber of Commerce officials say the experience has been well worth all the planning, the late nights. This was the third year Buffalo has participated in the roundup but the first as host. And that. in-and-of- itself, was nothing short of amazing,
RMI coordinates the international tourism activities for the state tourism departments of Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota. It's been doing international inbound marketing for more than 20 years.
Usually, RMl looks for host cities that are in the 60,000 population range to host tour operators from Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia. Buffalo, population 5,042, was selected to host the Roundup over Cheyenne. population 59,466.
Last year's Roundup was in Rapid City, S.D., a city of 67,965 people.
The budget to host the event was $43,500 - and included donations from both the city and the county--meaning taxpayer money.
While there were some grumblings that those visitors did not drop enough cash in the community while they visited, chamber officials note it wasn’t just a one-shot deal. It was all about building buzz, reaping the harvest of showing those tour operators the heart of
"We can tell them about our town all we want, but until they really experience it they won't know what its like here," Buffalo Chamber of Commerce executive director Angela Jarvis said earlier this month. "When they go home, we're going to get a whole bunch of everything out of this."
Time will tell - and the early results have been positive, Jarvis reports that an Australian blogger will live and write in Buffalo for three months this summer about her experiences. An international motorcycle club based in Germany, Bike the Best, will ride through Wyoming this year - and will begin in Buffalo. Great strides, to be sure.
But the final word comes from Clay Miller, chairman of the Wyoming Tourism Board and Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism: "The entire town stepped up and offered their businesses. services and hospitality (and) it worked because the pride of Buffalo made it work," the pair wrote in a letter to the chamber. "We personally heard many of the participants brag about the small town hospitality and vowed to return."