yourmessengerjason

Preserving local tourism for the sake of local tourism

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2009 at 4:15 am

Photo courtesy of Aaron Packard Photography

Photo courtesy of Aaron Packard Photography- http://www.aaronpackard.com

Anyone well-versed in the art of travel knows that the caveat in going from one place to another is not in coping with differences but in finding them. And in today’s world of selfsame strip malls, chain restaurants and big box stores it becomes harder and harder to tell one place from another. It’s no different in the Black Hills. Our unique destinations (granite peaks and abundant wildlife) are frequently passed over for instant gratification (water slides and mega resorts). I often wonder if our region would benefit from living outside our comfort zone of what’s easy, what we’re good at and what we hope to gain.


Generally speaking, marketing efforts touting the Black Hills should be commended. Our target audience is solid. We resonate with them. And we live up to our brand promise. But over time, I’ve come to see greater potential in tourism. Done right, we have the ability to preserve this place while maintaining and encouraging the differences that make us who we are.

No matter what side you land on in this debate, the proper analogy is that it’s hard to fully appreciate the Hills when your only experience with the place is a quick jaunt up and down Highway 16 or dare I say, a late night round of mini golf. And while these attractions prove enjoyable for millions of visitors and locals alike, low impact tourism efforts could also enhance the enjoyment of our area and contribute greatly to the bottom line of our local economy.

If this sounds too simple – or too complicated – it’s neither, really. It’s about getting out there. Trying something different. Taking a back road. And if you’ve been to Keystone, making a point to visit Silver City or Deerfield or even Pringle for that matter.

It’s all in the attitude, really. So the next time you’re planning a hike, ditch Harney Peak for Bear Mountain. Or if you’ve ticked another tourist spot off the list, opt for a Sunday afternoon jam session at Rochford’s Moonshine Gulch. And if the closest you’ve come to our local food movement is the end of a fast food line, consider pairing a glass of Red Ass Rhubarb with a plate of South Dakota Nosh while lounging on Prairie Berry Winery’s outdoor patio.

Sure, we all have our comfort zones. But as obvious as it seems, it helps to be reminded: We have something worth preserving here. Let’s entice others to get out of their element and discover it. In the end, we’ll all be better off for that.

Jason Alley is principal of Message, a full-service marketing & communications firm in Rapid City, South Dakota

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