By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
A task force has been established to determine the best way to pursue and promote Ste. Genevieve tourism.
At the quarterly joint Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and Tourism Tax Commission (TTC) meeting Sept. 20, Laura Oliver and Nicole French, members of the tourism groups, Dena Kreitler, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, ad City Administrator Happy Welch were named to the task force.
The groups met to weigh options. A debate has been ongoing on whether to hire another full-time tourism director or to farm the advertising and marketing duties to a marketing firm.
The last two tourism directors, Toby Carrig and Jeff Wix, each stayed just a year. Welch has expressed concern that too much is being demanded of the position.
Welch said that since he has been here, more and more has been dumped upon the position of tourism director. The past two, Carrig and Wix, Welch said, constantly worked 60-70 hours a week.
“You can’t sustain it,” Welch said. He added that, “If we’re going to keep a tourism director, then we need to refocus that person’s attention and the community needs to step in as well, to make the position sustainable.”
Welch believes marketing is the city’s responsibility. One full-time person four part-time people.
Welch explained that the board would continue to have workers in the Welcome Center, along with National Park Service (NPS) personnel.
“Do we need a tourism director to oversee all this if we’re not going to have the building, we jut have staff?” Welch asked.
The Division of Tourism requires an individual who puts in at least 32 hours a week, in order to continue grant funding.
Jean Rissover: How much a marketing firm would charge. It was estimated that it might run in the $80,000-110,000 range.
Rissover, longtime Herald editor, said that this “can be a very, very expensive kind of enterprise.” She said the city had tried it once before, without particularly good results.
There has also been complaints that National Park Service (NPs) personnel are not providing the kind of face-to-face experiences at the Welcome Center that visitors are used to receiving.
It was agreed that the city should maintain a presence at the Welcome Center, which is being transferred to the NPS.
Mike Fallert, TTC chair, emphasized that visitors must be treated right if they are expected to return.
“I’m huge on customer service,” he said. “I think we have to have a face; we have to have a liaison.”