Tourism At A Crossroads
By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
In light of Jeff Wix’s resignation as tourism director earlier that day, tourism was one of the primary items discussed at last Thursday night’s Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen meeting.
In giving the tourism director’s report, City Administrator Happy Welch reported that 7,500 rack cards had been distributed in the last five months along locations on Interstates 55, 70 and 44. Another 7,500 rack cards remain.
“There is some interest out there in tourism in Ste. Genevieve,” Welch said. “We’ll just keep marketing and getting the word out.”
Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan asked about the possibility of hiring a part-time person to help Welch during the interim.
“It is a difficult position,” Welch said. “We may talk at a work session about whether we want to do another tourism director or whether we want to go with an advertising agency.
“I think there’s a lot of interests that this person has to deal with. I’m not sure that we can keep the consistency because we’ve been through two people now.”
If an advertising agency is used, “they have to perform,” in Welch’s words, taking some of the stress off the local operation. They would have graphic designers on staff and connections with various media outlets.
“Instead of having to reestablish with a new person, that would be a good option,” Welch said, “but then it would be less personal.”
Talk turned to the Welcome Center, which has largely been turned over to the National Park Service (NPS). The city is down to one or two part-time employees there.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson urged anyone who was not concerned about possibly losing the last two city employees at the Welcome Center to watch the last 30 minutes of the July 19 Tourism Tax Commission and Tourism Advisory Council meeting, in which strong frustrations were expressed over the performance of NPS employees at the Welcome Center.
“There were some very strong feelings in that room and a lot of information shared,” she said. “If you think we don’t need those employees, please watch that and listen to your constituents that are involved.”
Donovan agreed and said he had heard additional comments about it.
“I think we definitely need to keep a presence there,” he said.