By Debbie Vandeberg
Havre Area Chamber of Commerce
Having just returned from the Governor's Conference on Tourism, it gives me great satisfaction that we live and work in a community that has so much to offer to so many people looking for a real experience in open clean spaces under the Big Sky.
Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, a marketing company that services travel, leisure and lifestyle clients, talked about the new travel trends of tourists.
The average tourist spends between $75 and $142 a day. This is new money to our area. Americans have had a changed view on vacations since 9/11. Social values were affected along with buying behaviors. The average tourist desires sharing this time with family and friends and making travel plans to fulfill that desire.
The Internet continues to be a growing medium for exploring and booking vacation plans.
Baby boomers generated the highest travel volume in 2003, registering 268.9 million trips.
The No. 1 outdoor activity is camping. A third of U.S. adults have gone camping in the past five years. The third most popular outdoor activity behind camping and hiking is biking.
Cultural events and festivals are very popular among travelers. Seventy-five percent of U.S. travelers attended a cultural activity or event while on vacation in the past year. Community festivals and fairs are a great way for travelers to experience new communities.
Historical places continue to make the activity list of popular things to do while traveling. A total of 58 percent of last year's travelers included a historical activity or event while on vacation.
National parks remain a popular destination for summer travel. And we see major traffic during the summer from travelers going to or coming from Glacier National Park. Our charge as a community is to "capture" them for a stay in Havre.
We need to encourage them to enjoy the recreation opportunities we have, become educated about our heritage and culture, experience the treasures we have and spend leisure time in our communities.
We have natural attractions like Beaver Creek Park.
We have manmade attractions like parks and museums.
We have historical attractions - Bear Paw Battlefield, Fort Assinniboine and Wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump.
We have ethnic and cultural attractions like the powwows.
We have the arts like galleries and performing arts productions, and, wonderful community events like Saturday Market, Havre Festival Days and the Great Northern Fair that allow visitor participation.
We have many events taking place in our area that have potential to stimulate our summer vacation season:
Fort Assinniboine's open house on May 15 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Corp of Discovery II at Rocky Boy June 17-20. Corp II is a National Park Service traveling exhibit that will provide visitors with an introduction to the Lewis & Clark story. The traveling exhibits includes two interpretive tents with exhibits and a performance tent called the "The Tent of Many Voices."
Rocky Boy Pow-Wow, Aug. 5-7
Great Northern Fair, Aug. 10-14
Havre Festival Days, Sept. 16-18
We also have shopping - still the most popular trip activity. In a 2002 study done by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, of the 4,595 nonresident travelers who stayed in Hill County, 42 percent shopped and spent $1.48 million on retail items alone.
First impressions are important. Often we get less than 10 minutes to capture their attention. How our town looks is critical. Looking clean and inviting is the key.
National Tourism Week is May 7-15.