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In the tourism industry, relationships help have a positive impact on the economy | Columnists

More than 100 Wyoming hospitality and tourism professionals gathered at the Sheridan’s Best Western for the Industry Fall Summit last week.

With my connections to the rodeo in Sheridan and across the region, I’ve lived on the fringes of the industry for years, but in my new role as Destination Development Coordinator for Sheridan County Travel and Tourism, my job is to best understand how SCTT works Tourism can use spending for the benefit of our community. The excitement and energy in the room taught me that this is an industry that thrives on relationships and works together to make a positive impact.

The Fall Summit was a crash course on the impact of tourism on our local economy and it gave me a new perspective on this beautiful community. As a local, I’d never thought about tourism much – except maybe when I had to wait for an extra car or two at a four-way stop, or when I happened to be sitting next to an interesting soul while waiting for a table at the Wyoming Rib and Chop.

It was remarkable to learn that visitors to Sheridan County spend more than $ 115 million each year. I’ve always enjoyed talking to visitors and letting them know what I love to do in Sheridan, but this glimpse into the overall impact of tourism spending paints an incredible picture of the possibilities.

The fall summit made me wonder why I love Sheridan – the vast expanses, the wild Wyoming weather in all four seasons, and the tranquility of the countryside. While we may worry that too many people entering our space are taking these great properties out of our home, it is not. People come here because they are looking for these remarkable qualities and we are fortunate to be able to share them.

I’ve always felt that Wyoming tourism was big business, but it was remarkable to learn that it is the second largest industry in our state and employs more than any other sector. Tourism is vital to our local economy. Approximately 400,000 visitors spend at least one night in Sheridan County each year, each with their own interest in our spectacular scenery, history and heritage, hospitality, restaurants and more. What I found out is that tourism is a big part of what our historic downtown area thrives on. The dozens of shops, restaurants, galleries, and local businesses are major attractions.

During the fall summit, tourism agencies and professionals from across the state met to share and discuss best practices. It was enlightening to see what the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association and the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition were discussing about federal law and personnel issues and how they affect our local community.

Topics such as tourism improvement districts and a new film production incentive were discussed in detail, with the ultimate goal of generating additional income – and thus jobs – for our country. As a local, I was unfamiliar with these two initiatives, and after learning about them, I see the opportunities they would offer if passed. The industry also discussed the challenges posed by the pandemic and how it has worked from Cheyenne to Sheridan and everything in between to address those challenges for the benefit of all of our local communities.

Mandy Smith is Destination Development Coordinator for Sheridan County Travel and Tourism.

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