A kick in the shin
By TIM HORAN
“I’m going to kick you in the shins,” the president of the Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau said Friday afternoon.
Speaking at a joint meeting of the county CVB and the Abilene Rotary, Jerry Cook said that Dickinson County has a lot to offer in the way of travel and tourism.
Abilene’s CVB Director Glenda Purkis said that the tourism figures of $30.9 million were an increase.
She said shopping was the No. 1 attraction.
“All of those artists in stores help make our tourism,” she said. “We are thrilled to death.
“We also celebrate that, from the Smithsonian, we are one of the top 20 small towns to visit,” she added. “And, as someone pointed out to me, well, you’re 17th, but we are ahead of locations in Hawaii, Texas and Colorado.”
Cook congratulated the CVB then kicked it in the shins.
“I’m not a person that is comfortable with comfortness,” he said. “I want to challenge you because it is too easy for us to become comfortable and like things the way they are. I want to kick you in the shins a little bit.
“What you do in travel and tourism is important to the state,” he said. “Be proud that you are part of an industry that ranks third in revenue to the state.”
However, he said, there are 18 counties in the region that includes Dickinson County and the county ranks seventh in tourism
“You should be proud of the $30.86 million,” he said. “But I think you need to be asking yourself these questions. The county west of you, Saline, generated $245 million in tourism dollars. The county to the right of you, Riley, spent $188 million. What is going on in Salina and what is going on in Manhattan? You might say they have K-State, Fort Riley, etc, etc, etc, a lot of things and think about that not in excuses but what may be going on.
“Appreciate what we have but, more importantly, ask the question, how can we expand and make that even stronger?” he said.
Cook said there are nine counties in Kansas that are in the same range as Dickinson County.
Cook also challenged the local CVB with a “C” word and it wasn’t competition.
“Don’t you compete with Geary County? Don’t you compete with Saline County if you are living in Dickinson County?” he said. “I believe we need to start thinking how do we compliment one another. Because the traveler doesn’t really care about what city boundary or what county boundary or what state boundary the experience is in, as long as they have an experience that is meaningful to what they want to achieve. I think it is important for those of us in travel and tourism to think about complimenting rather than competing.
“You are rich in history. You are rich in museums. You are a national influence. You are rich in state influence You are rich in diverse culture. You are rich in diverse heritage,” he said. “I believe you have resources here unlike any city in Kansas.”
Cook and David Lindstrom, who played defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1978-1986, have been walking the trails of Kansas. Recently, they walked part of the Chisholm Trail from Newton to Kansas. They ended their trip on President’s Day in Abilene.
“Do you know what it is like in Abilene on President’s Day? It’s a national holiday,” he said.
He said on their walking tours, they usually get into a town on a Saturday afternoon.
“Do you know what’s open at most places? The Conoco convenience store,” he said. “We have those all over Johnson County. Many of the antique shops close on Saturday afternoons. Some are open on Sundays. Most are closed on national holidays. My challenge is, maybe we need to think through that if we are going to attract visitors to our community when they can best travel. Unless they are retired, usually weekends and holidays are when they travel.”
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