Travel, tourism board looks to plug October
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: November 10, 2012
Members of the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board on Thursday committed at least $100,000 to back a new event that is being touted as a way to bolster tourism in October.
Details of the event haven’t been fleshed out — it could promote eco- and geotourism as well as adventure travel, a report suggests — but board members said they need to get someone in place who can carry the idea the rest of the way.
The intent is to get something off the ground next year, board members said during Thursday’s meeting.
“We’ve been kicking this around for a year and a half,” board member Ponteir Sackrey said Friday. “It’s time to go fish or cut bait.”
Of the money board members approved, $50,000 will be used to hire someone to coordinate and oversee many of the day-to-day tasks of creating a large-scale event. The rest of the money will be used as seed money, board members said.
Advertisements for the new position are expected to start going out some time before Thanksgiving, in hopes that the board can get someone in place by January.
Some people, including Mayor Mark Barron, told board members they should consider the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce to coordinate the event. Board members, however, said that while the chamber likely will play a roll later on, they need to get someone in place now.
Whomever is picked for the job will be tasked with getting the event off the ground next year. Board members said they envision a smaller version of the event in October 2013 that they can ramp up in 2014 and 2015.
“I think an event needs at least three years to get some traction,” Sackrey said during the meeting Thursday.
Board members said they will pull the funds from leftover money they set aside to support special events. They have roughly $33,000 remaining in that account. In addition, they’ll pull money from a miscellaneous fund they set aside while making their budget to use for any unforeseen events or marketing opportunities.
The event could need as much as $150,000 in 2014, board members estimated.
To ensure that the new event has a full three years to develop, board members said they likely will set aside money in their last budget that could be put toward the event even if voters reject the lodging tax at the polls in the future.
A rough outline of the project delivered to board members last month says the event should focus on conservation, including “the culture, politics and science surrounding it.” The intent is to create an event that will draw on participation from a broad array of organizations and existing infrastructure to help ensure it is self-sustaining.
Board members want to focus on attracting more tourists during October because it’s the “one true remaining opportunity in terms of reasonable weather to extend Jackson Hole’s tourism season,” the report says.
Board members said they plan to review the event as it starts to develop to make sure it’s doing so properly.
“If it’s not taking off and we’re not thrilled with it, I think we should feel perfectly free to go in another direction,” board member Candra Day said.