TTC Will Direct More Focus Toward I-44 Corridor

By MARK EVANS

STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD

More focus will be given to marketing Ste. Genevieve along the Interstate 44 corridor during the next year.

The Ste. Genevieve Tourism Tax Commission [TTC] voted during a special meeting on August 5, to drop several downtown St. Louis businesses and add I-44 locations for its rack card distribution.

Tourism director Toby Carrig listed some options, including adding either I-70 in Illinois, I-44 through Missouri, or adding both, while maintaining downtown St. Louis motels and attractions and I-55 locations – but not the downtown businesses.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson asked if Carrig was leaning toward dropping downtown St. Louis locations due to the pandemic shutdown.

“Partially,” he replied. “I heard from some people that they didn’t think it would work well for them … then, with the virus, many downtown employers are not having all their employees in to work.”

“So, there’s always a possibility eight months down or six or seven months down the road, of reinstating that?” Johnson asked. Carrig said there was.

He did notice that there are no distribution rates by any companies in southern Illinois, along I-57.

“I actually drove around Saturday to Marion. You could kind of see a difference between Marion and Carbondale. Marion really doesn’t have … a place for cards. So, one place they just put it on the front counter.”

He said Carbondale tourism has portals where he was able to leave some cards in the lobbies. He said he had hit about eight places and found that the Misselhorn Art Gallery in Sparta and the Chester tourist information center were both closed when he visited.

The pandemic has led to a more severe shutdown in Illinois than in Missouri.

“You can tell the difference in Illinois, in terms of atmosphere,” Carrig said.

TTC member Mike Fallert noted that the I-44 route “covers a lot more places,” but added that he was “on the fence” in trying to decide.

Johnson asked Carrig if he had an idea of where most visitors were coming from. He indicated that a high percentage come from the St. Louis area or southern Illinois.

She asked if these were people who already knew about Ste. Genevieve, “and maybe they’re just finally deciding to take the trip because they know things are pretty open and the virus is contained down here?”

Carrig said yes. He also added that visitors have been coming from Kansas City, as well.

Adding I-70 to the rack card distribution would cost $320 a month, or $2,561 for eight months, while I-44 would be $390 a month, or $3,121 for eight months.