Report: tourism brought $167.4 million
Tourism spending in Sweetwater County has declined in from the past two years, but still brought in approximately $167.4 million in 2015 according to a report from the Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board.
The board promotes Sweetwater County as a destination for travelers to visit, spending much of its budget on marketing the county outside of the area. According to the report, the board spends 62 percent of its budget on various marketing attempts, including its mobile phone app, hosting travel writers to write about the area, as well as print, broadcast and online advertising. The board’s executive director, Jenissa Meredith, said the board has seen a return of $68 to the area’s economy for every dollar spent in advertising.
“It’s as high as we’ve ever gotten, which is huge for us,” Meredith said.
Meredith said the board’s strategy isn’t to compete with locations like Yelllowstone National Park or the Grand Tetons, but to make Sweetwater County an important stopping point on the way. She said the county is a great junction to those other, more popular destinations, saying the county is part of the great Wyoming Road Trip despite not being a destination itself.
The board has worked with a larger budget over the past two years, as a result of voters approving an increase in the lodging tax billed at county hotels. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the board received $961,006, while only receiving $701,395 during the previous fiscal year. During the 2014-2015 year, the board collected the lodging tax at 2 percent for nine months, and the newly-approved 3 percent for three months of that year.
The board also provides funding to local events through grants, funding outside advertisement for Flaming Gorge Days, the River Festival and the county fair, among others. It also provides block grants to both chambers of commerce to operate as visitor centers.
The Green River Chamber receives $32,500 annually, while the Rock Springs Chamber receives $36,000. It also provides the Sweetwater County Events Complex with a $60,000 grant for marketing outside of the county and event recruitment.