Study Is Focused On Boosting Tourism Industry In Chelan County
Work is continuing on a 10-year roadmap to develop and manage tourism in Chelan County.
The county has hired a travel and tourism marketing company to study the strengths, needs and gaps in the county's tourism industry.
The company, MMGY Global, based in the Kansas City area, bills itself as the world's leading integrated marketing company specializing in travel, tourism and hospitality.
The study is a multi-faceted process, which has included focus groups, community surveys, a stakeholder survey with businesses, one-on-one interviews and analysis of other recent studies, such as one focused on a regional sports and aquatic center.
The research will help MMGY determine what resources the county has, what's needed and where the gaps are in developing and managing tourism.
The firm is in the process of putting a final draft together, which will be reviewed by Visit Chelan County and the Chelan County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
According to Barkley, the goal is to develop tourism in a sustainable way.
Some of the major issues the county faces include a massive hiking trail network that doesn't have a maintenance and operation plan. Some of the trails suffer from acute overuse while some smaller communities have plenty of trails but don't have adequate tourism infrastructure.
Barkley says they've been studying two similar sized communities - Bend, Oregon and Missoula, Montana - that have had success in developing and maintaining tourism. She said they're examining how those communities reinvented themselves and developed best practices.
After studying Bend and Missoula, the next step is to realize what makes Chelan County stand out.
"What makes Wenatchee, Chelan County, Chelan and Leavenworth, all so different," said Barkley. "And how do we capitalize on our regional differences."
Visit Wenatchee County also conducted a recent survey of county residents to find out improvements they'd like to see and what concerns they have about the tourism industry.
'As much as we enjoy tourism and want to continue to develop and have it as an industry, we also want to be cognizant of making sure it's a place that you still want to live and enjoy and raise your children and grandchildren," Barkley.
Visit Chelan County and the Chelan County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee should have a more clear vision on moving forward once a review of MMGY study is complete.
The 10-year roadmap for tourism development is called the "Destination Stewardship Plan."