Have you ever wondered what the role of tourism is?
We wanted to take a moment to talk about why tourism is important to our local communities here in the tri-counties... and beyond, how it ties into economic development, and the role it plays in thriving communities... AKA economic vitality. We've run across a disconnect, and it's one that negatively impacts our communities. We'd like to change this.
It's important for us clarify and push through these disconnects, to build bridges that create a cohesive tie within our region... not only as a destination travelers are seeking to explore, but also where local residents embrace the reality that where they live... IS a destination worth traveling to and sharing.
(Fordland, Missouri - Home of Schofield + Gray Pop-Up Markets | Grayson Home, Wild Hollow Ranch Restaurant, Chateau Charmant, and Wild West Days)
Tourism is at the heart of economic development. Did you know that tourism has become one of the world's largest industries, and within that, its one of the fastest growing economic sectors. It's pretty wild! For many countries tourism is seen as a main instrument for regional development, as it stimulates new economic activities. Such as sales, jobs, income, and tax revenues. This is not only true for regions abroad, this is true for developing local regional destinations as well. For instance, what we are doing here in Douglas, Webster, and Wright County Missouri... as we work to bring new economic activity to our communities.
How does that relate to you?
Think about it. Whether you are a local resident, interested in coming for a visit, or planning a trip somewhere else... if you travel to a new community to explore what they have to offer. Whether you have a hankering for a hike, want to get away in the woods for an overnight camping expedition, need to get out on the open road and explore those two lane highways, town squares, mom & pop eateries, or visit the local attractions. Your money goes into that local economy. From the gas stations you fill up your gas tank and stop for the bathroom, to the grocery stores you get your snacks. If you are spending your money at the local attraction for tickets and trinkets, buying lunch from the local cafe or fast food.... your money is helping to build those communities.
Just think what happens when the roles are reversed, and visitors come to the tri-counties. We want that. We want that not only in the communities of Douglas, Webster, and Wright county... but, in all communities. When people travel, their monies help to build vitality in the region. This is your region.
If you are a money person... let's talk about tourism's positive economic impact on the local economy, on employment, and on gross income and production.
Tourism is the second largest industry in the state of Missouri. In 2018, $17.2 billion was spent on tourism alone, bringing in 42 million visitors to the state. That's a lot of people, spending a lot of money here with both direct and indirect impacts.
Tourism-related industries in 2018 provided 301,789 jobs in Missouri, with approximately 8% (1 in 12) of all jobs in the state were in tourism-related industries. That's just tourism related.
We haven't even discussed the HALO Effect, which brings in new business ventures (and in turn, new job opportunities) based on tourism and destination marketing.
Let's break this down, and take a look at the numbers.
(Swan Song Inn, Marshfield, Missouri)
These are numbers we want to pay attention to.
Tourism is not limited to big events, live shows, and big attractions.
In the Missouri Division of Tourism's 2018 Economic Impact Report put together by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economic Company. The report indicates for Missouri tourism the trends that impact our state, demographic characteristics of travelers, and what visitors are looking for.
When you think of tourism, what do you think of? What about for the Ozarks? Many folks immediately think of Arkansas, Lake of the Ozarks, Bass Pro and Branson. Some of the disconnect occurs by thinking tourism isn't relate-able to the rural spaces. Tiny towns of 600 or so in population. Perhaps double that number. Perhaps that's you too, or maybe you think of a big city, a locale that requires a plane ticket or several gas stops to get to - where tourism is most relevant to you.
We want to break through this disconnect, because this is part of what can hold us back from building a successful cohesive destination. This disconnect where tourism isn't relevant or relate-able in the rural spaces. Holding tight to a mantra of "what do we have to offer?" or worse, a mindset saying "we don't have anything to offer" is counter productive, and just not so.
Did you know that the country spaces, small town festivals, farm lands, farm stands, and rural culture fits in the top percentiles of what travelers are searching for?
After shopping and seeing friends, the top activities for Missouri visitors include fine dining, rural sightseeing, museums, urban sightseeing, musical performances | shows, and visiting historic sites and churches.
The tri-counties are rich with the cultural experience that travelers are seeking. Your community... your two-lane highway, farm, town square, historical marker, local cafe, church, and antique store are on the top of the travel must see list. No joke.
How about them apples?!
In short, people are hungry to take a break from the city life... and explore what's tucked away in their own backyards.
(Cedar Hill Farm Event Venue - Fordland, Missouri)
Friends, rural tourism is growing, and in communities that have not seen growth for a long time. We are working hard to tap into a specific niche of travelers, while building a regional destination here in the tri-counties that draws in travelers to discover, and rediscover our rich culture and heritage. Will you join us, and be part of that growth?
*** For more information on how tourism has effected the Missouri economy, or if you would like to receive a copy of the Y2018 Economic Report for Tourism, click here.