"Do we build attractions to lure tourists or create opportunities for the community's own enrichment?"
That's the question asked by one of the workshops for the recently announced Upper Mississippi River Conference to be held August 21 through 23 at the i wireless Center.
The answer is "both," and this may be the summer Quad Citians can do both - being a tourist by enjoying all our great attractions and by developing a deeper appreciation for our quality of life.
Rising gasoline prices have gotten the tourism industry to consider residents as tourists. Attractions in major destinations such as Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas are lowering admission prices to draw an important market segment for travel this summer: residents.
Gasoline prices should not threaten your vacation plans or spoil your summer fun.
The Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau suggests you check out the many great things to see and do in the Quad Cities, many of which you may have never visited before. People come from around the world to experience what we have every day of the year.
One of the positives of high gas prices is that local residents may rediscover all the great gems we have here in the Quad Cities. Why drive to Oshkosh for its air show when one of the nation's top five air shows - the Quad City Air Show - is just minutes away? Why drive to Kansas City or Chicago for a blues fest when we have the world-class IH Mississippi Valley Blues Fest here on the banks of the Mississippi River?
In fact, the tourism industry has coined a new phrase for this phenomenon of people vacationing in their neighborhood, hometown, region, or state: staycation. Staycation is when you get away but don't travel too far to enjoy the many events, festivals, and attractions close to home.
Quad Cities festivals, arts, and cultural attractions can greatly benefit from this trend by tweaking their advertising over the course of the summer.
I think advertising and promotions should include a mention of staycations or being a tourist in your own backyard, as I think festivals will see lots of new faces in the crowd this year - those who have not attended before or who are revisiting an old favorite that they may not have attended for several years.
I've taken to carrying a bright red, five-gallon gasoline can (empty, of course!) to the many presentations and media events I attend to make a point. Even with high gasoline prices, I think festivals can make a positive statement by turning miles or hours of travel into gallons of gasoline. For instance, assuming a 25-mile-per-gallon vehicle, it only takes six or seven gallons of gas for a resident of Des Moines or Chicago to drive here. At $4 per gallon, a trip to the Quad Cities that costs $25, $30, or even $35 is still a great travel value.
Go to (http://www.visitquadcities.com) for more information.
If you prefer the personal touch, the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau also staffs five visitors centers - the Mississippi Valley Welcome Center in LeClaire, the QCCVB office at 1601 River Drive in Moline, the Centennial Bridge Visitors Center in Rock Island, Union Station in Davenport, and the Quad City International Airport Visitors Center - where knowledgeable visitor counselors can provide you personal information on what there is to see and do in the Quad Cities.
Joe Taylor is president and CEO of the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.