It’s been an interesting year for the tourism industry. As most every one of the bureaus from around Wyoming begins to reflect back on an exceptional summer tourism season, we found ourselves heading right into…Shutdown Season.
Wyoming’s tourism economy is uniquely susceptible to the ramifications of the government shutdown, considering that the federal government is directly responsible for the management of our national parks and monuments, this immediately presented a unique challenge at the state level in terms of how to continue enticing visitors to Wyoming without these assets being accessible.
This was a key topic at the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition Fall Summit held earlier this month in Rock Springs. As a board member of the coalition, I had the opportunity to learn more about the successes realized this summer from various other Wyoming communities as well as the potential impact of the government shutdown on our own economies.
What I discovered was that we were all impacted to some degree by the closure of these assets, but we also had an opportunity to capitalize on this by showcasing the unique topographical features throughout the state as a whole, while also showcasing the features of our communities.
With this in mind, we can see that Sheridan does have some distinct advantages. In the past we’ve capitalized on our geographic location, being that we are located almost exactly mid-way between Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore. This, of course, is true; however, it certainly does limit our marketing potential in a scenario like the recent shutdown.
We find ourselves residing in a community whose surrounding area would in itself be considered on a scale similar to a national park in many other states. The more proficient we become at sharing that message, the better prepared we can be to insulate ourselves from any negative impact that may come from future park closures. Coupled with the premier features of Sheridan as a community will enable us to continue to stand apart as a key Wyoming destination.
This is certainly the right idea, but by no means will this be a quick process. We’ll find that this is an ongoing effort for many years to come, and we’re partnering with some key local associations to make it happen. I’m looking forward to sharing more about what this means in future columns as we continue to work towards leveraging and enhancing Sheridan’s assets as a means of defining our community and our region as a premier Wyoming destination.
Shawn Buckley is the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.