Tourism generates 100s of millions of dollars a year in sales tax revenue in Iowa. Cecilia Miller reflects on promoting tourism and asks 'Who's In Charge?'
Who's In Charge? -- continued from The Reporter
On the business front, we are fortunate to have several unique shops as well as interesting eateries where owners continue to strive to provide the best of service and goods. The 3/50 project (the350project.net) states that for every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. For money spent at a national chain, $43 stays here. (By the way, online spending brings nothing home.) Here's something to consider: If half the employed US population spent $50 each month in independently owned businesses, their purchased would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine what that could do for Main Street! Secondly, local business employees need to continue and expand something that's already happening here in Emmetsburg that I call 'boomerang'. Boomerang is when a person visits one store and then that store sends them on to another business (and maybe even on to another business, etc). It's a concept of keeping people moving throughout the community for greater benefit. For instance, if I go to K. Jackson looking for a new blouse, they might suggest I go to A Heavenly Celebration for that birthday gift I'm looking for and they may mention that Don Jose's Mexican restaurant is having a great lunch special, after which I may see the sign for St. Pat's and stop in for some Irish charm, etc. Instead of going to one store, I've now visited four (and this concept works for Tourists and locals alike). Yes, it can be as easy as that but local stores need to be willing and able to also promote other local businesses, which fortunately several are already doing a great job at this.
Next comes our natural environments such as the river, the lake and our parks. These provide great attractions for Tourists and locals alike. We all need to take part in keeping them clean, protecting them from vandals and using them often so that they thrive. Driving by a park is nice but it can become a lovely experience when you view people gathered there enjoying an activity and even better if you join in the fun. Our community is fortunate to have many wonderful parks that are well-kept and well accommodated with bathrooms, picnic tables, playground equipment, etc. Perhaps this summer you'll make an effort to visit each local park so that you're familiar with these public assets. At this time I'd also like to add a plea for local pet owners to please carry refuse bags so that they are able to clean up after their pets as an otherwise wonderful park experience can so easily be spoiled.
Finally, we have our local organizations who are commissioned with promoting our region outside of our community through their work with Iowa Department of Tourism, Western Iowa Tourism and other such organizations that market our area on a larger scale throughout the state, the Midwest and our nation. Especially in this era when people are looking to vacation and recreate more closely to home we need to look for occasions to recommend our community to our neighboring towns, throughout our state and to nearby states.
Currently the Iowa Tourism office is running a fun promotion titled "I Dig Iowa". Now through August they are giving away monthly special Iowa vacation packages (valued up to $500 each). To enter the drawing, log-on to idigiowa.com, tell them what you dig about Iowa in 100 words or less. I encourage you to take the opportunity to type in the things you enjoy about our community as I'd love to see the site covered in the wonders of Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County. You can enter daily to increase your likelihood of winning as 'the more you dig, the more chances you have to win'. April's winner will receive a vacation package to Newton, May - Okoboji, June - Waterloo, July - Iowa City, August - Mason City. I want to win! But even more, I want to see Emmetsburg listed so many times on this site that we'll peak the interest of all the viewers and they'll soon be surfing to our sites for vacation options!
Yes, the answer to "Who's In Charge?" has to begin with each one of us! What will YOU do to promote Tourism for our town? I'd love to hear your responses!