(Paula McCormick, right, made the presentation to the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday. Joshua Scheer photo)
(Lander, Wyo.) – The Wind River Visitors Council is reporting that tourists spent $139.6 million in Fremont County in 2012.
WRVC Marketing Director Paula McCormick, along with board members Jim Davis and Scott Goetz (Riverton’s and Lander’s chamber directors, respectively), gave an annual update to the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday. The visitors council is charged with managing the 4 percent lodging tax dollars spent in the county to market Wind River Country.
Of the nearly $140 million reportedly spent in the county, the break down is as follows: $41.7 million in gas/rental cars; $27.7 million in restaurants; $21.5 million in arts-entertainment-recreation; $19.4 million in shopping; $19 million in lodging; $9.6 million in groceries/food; and $800,000 in air travel.
Spending was up slightly compared to 2011, when visitors spent $137.7 million. The breakout: $18.9 million on lodging; $35.7 million on food service and food stores; $41 million on local transportation and gas; $20.9 million on arts, entertainment and recreation; $18.9 million on retail sales and $800,000 on airplane transportation.
None of these numbers include people who travelled for business.
McCormick said 1,630 people in the county are directly employed in the tourism industry in the county, receiving $43.4 million in wages.
From July 2012 through June 2013, WRVC received $629,364 in lodging tax dollars. McCormick said the council expects a budget of $675,000 for the current fiscal year. Of the budget 73 percent is spent on marketing, 25 percent to Tourism Asset Development (TAD) and 2 percent for administration. TAD funds are divided up among the county’s communities based on their contribution to the total for local tourism-oriented projects.
WRVC conducts direct marketing, digital marketing (including a new website in the works through County10.com’s parent company PitchEngine), press relations, billboards, consumer advertising and physical mailings.
Much of the conversation with the commission centered around getting locals to help tourists and improve the image of the county. McCormick said she is working on placing informational posters at first stop locations like gas stations that employees can point to if someone asks what there is to do.
Davis said he has attempted to get restaurants in Riverton to send their servers to trainings to learn how to inform visitors about the area, but he’s run into a lack of interest. Commissioner Keja Whiteman said she wished there was a coordinated events planning effort countywide so that events weren’t always happening at the same time.