Kaufman: The power of tourism

Kaufman: The power of tourism

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In Casper we are fortunate to live where we do. All around us are wide-open spaces, welcoming neighbors, locally owned businesses, scenic views and experiences that remind us that this place is unlike any other. And while these assets are something we see and experience every day, they play a major role in making travel, tourism and hospitality the second-largest industry in Wyoming.

While we have faced challenges as a community, destination and state over the last several months, the tourism industry has been and will continue to be a silver lining for Wyoming and the special places that make up our landscapes, history, culture, people and legacy.

Over the last three months, Visit Casper has gone from touting our community as a world-class destination to asking future guests to wait and visit when the time was right. While we stopped our ongoing promotional efforts regionally and nationally, we quickly pivoted to focus on how we could help our friends, neighbors and local business owners through this crisis. For the Visit Casper team, that meant creating community-facing resources like a hyper-local job board, a comprehensive and current list of restaurants offering takeout/pick up and a resource center that highlighted need-to-know information for our guests and industry partners.

Fast-forward to today and we are easing our way back into marketing travel to Casper. Through it all, one thing stands out: Casper is well-positioned to welcome visitors back to our destination.

In a study released by Destination Analyst the week of June 1, 2020, spending time with friends and family, road trips and visiting national and other parks are among the highest-rated travel experiences. Casper and Wyoming have these in spades. Whether visitors are coming for a weekend getaway, taking a road trip to one of Wyoming’s national parks, casting a fishing line on the North Platte River or simply taking the time to slow down and spend time with loved ones, Casper has never been in a better position to give our guests a memorable, meaningful experience.

While this summer and the rest of 2020 are going to look markedly different, our community is faring far better than many other cities across the United States. Hotel occupancy is up 11% to our low in April and continues to rise. Air travel in and out of Casper/Natrona County International Airport is also increasing. Now our job is to make sure our visitors feel welcome, safe and supported.

People always ask me what they can do to help grow our visitor economy. It starts by doing what we do best, welcoming visitors with kindness and a friendly smile. When you see out-of-state license plates or encounter travelers on hiking trails, fishing access sites, public lands, strolling through downtown or grabbing a drink or bite at one of our local establishments, I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for being here and choosing Casper.

At the end of the day, when our local tourism economy is thriving, our neighbors and friends have jobs. Our quality of life improves. We have more dining, entertainment and recreation options. We pay less in taxes and keep a little more in our pocket. Today, tourism is more vital than ever, benefits all of us and will play a vital role in ensuring Casper’s economy moves forward.

Brook Kaufman is the CEO of Visit Casper and a Natrona County Commissioner.

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