(From the archives. This interview was originally posted on June 17, 2017)
Jenissa Meredith, Executive Director of the Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board, answers questions about tourism in Sweetwater County, local activities, economic impact of tourism, and more.
What are the responsibilities of the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board?
The Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board is a Joint Powers Board, appointed by the City of Rock Springs, City of Green River, Town of Wamsutter, Town of Superior and the Sweetwater County Commissioners charged with administering the 3% county lodging tax for marketing and promotional purposes that generate lodging occupancy in the county.
What is the economic impact of tourism in Sweetwater County?
According to research conducted by the Wyoming Office of Tourism, when all travel is considered, in 2016 Sweetwater County welcomed 655,000 overnight visitors and total travel spending in Sweetwater County was $151.5 million. This spending generated $3.5 million for local governments, which accounted for 8.5% of all taxes generated in the county. Also in 2016, over 1,500 jobs in Sweetwater County were supported by travelers.
When considering the advertising efforts implemented solely by the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism board through the local option lodging tax, that advertising generated also 6,500 trips to the area with an economic impact of $8.5 million. 24% of individuals who requested a Sweetwater County travel guide from the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism office actually visited the area creating a return on investment to the local economy of $68 for every $1 spent on advertising.
What are some of the activities people can participate in while visiting the area?
Over 76% of leisure visitors to Sweetwater County are on their way to or from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. With that in mind it is no wonder that the primary activities that visitors participate in while in Sweetwater County include wildlife viewing, scenic drives, outdoor activities and visiting historic sites. Sweetwater County, located halfway between Yellowstone and Canyonlands National Parks in southwest Wyoming, is home to 10,500 square miles of pure, high desert adventure. Known as “Flaming Gorge Country” the area is characterized by the 91-square-mile Flaming Gorge Lake, the famed Green River, expansive deserts and rugged mountains. Popular activities include camping, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, hunting dinosaurs, shopping, taking in one of the daily events or just plain getting away from it all. It is a perfect place to explore American history, Sweetwater County is also home to petroglyphs, pioneer trails and historical museums.
Are there any events planned for the nearby solar eclipse on August 21st?
Although Sweetwater County is not in the path of totality, the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board has partnered with a variety of local entities to host an educational event during the solar eclipse on August 21st. The event will be held at the Sweetwater Events Complex from 8:30-11:30am and will include a portable planetarium, telescope presentation, Sweetwater County Library children’s activities, and free eclipse glasses. For more information please visit www.tourwyoming.com/eclipse
How is Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism funded?
The budget of the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board is made up solely from the 3% county lodging tax that is collected at every hotel, motel or campground in the county. The lodging tax is administered by the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board for marketing and promotional efforts that generate additional lodging occupancy.
- How long have you been the Executive Director of Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism?
- What positions do you currently hold in this capacity?
-Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition: Current Past Board President
-Sweetwater County Event Recruitment Committee: Chair
-Sweetwater County Lodging Association: Chair
-Rock Springs City Beautification Committee: Chair
-Green River City Beautification Committee: Chair
-Flaming Gorge Promotions Committee: Secretary/Treasurer
- Why is tourism important to Wyoming?
Tourism is critical to Wyoming’s economy. The state of Wyoming welcomed 8.5 million overnight visitors in 2016, generating $894 million in payroll for those employed in the Wyoming Travel Industry. Leisure and hospitality is the largest employer among all private industries in Wyoming.