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Tombstone is ranked as one of the Top visited Destinations in Arizona or is it? And why do we care? Or do we? .

Several weeks ago I started talking about my experience at the Arizona Governors Conference on Tourism.  There were a variety of topics relating to the Tourism Industry and in order to share without overwhelming, I broke down the topics and information. Originally I was only going to do 3 parts but there is so much information I will continue to Part 4 then and expand on them in future Chamber Member emails.  This is part 3; Tombstone is ranked as one of the Top visited Destinations in Arizona or is it? And why do we care? Or do we?

I keep hearing of a ranking where Tombstone was listed as one of the top destinations. In an effort to see where that information comes from I have been doing some research, and I called the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). I was emailed the latest information which was from 2010; there is a list of Arizona attractions which has evolved over the years.  I was cautioned by AOT that the numbers that would “rank” a top destination are self-reported numbers and many are not based on measureable statistics.  AOT pointed out that Arizona now has many large man-made attractions such as Chase Field, Cardinals Stadium, Arizona Science Museum, Old Tucson and the like…  All of these attractions are competing with traditionally Western destinations and attractions, like Tombstone Arizona.  Throughout the Arizona not only have new businesses opened, tourist attractions and destinations have evolved as well.  This evolution demonstrates that the Arizona tourism businesses are developing to the market they want to attract in order to generate revue to support their local community as a whole.

Why is it important that we are a top visited destination? It’s important because we are a living historical community.   We are not just a made up façade of fictional storefronts and stories…we have an infrastructure of schools, police, fire services and residents that are supported by the economics of tourism. We can only support the community if the tourism dollars stay in the Tombstone. This means that we need to support and encourage local business and make way for visitors to not only to stay to enjoy our long and varied historical timeline of events, but to keep the door open for the revisit.

The over-arching Conference Message:  The more things there are to see and do the more people will come to enjoy the experience and the longer they will stay. The more successful an attraction and retention of overnight visitors the more lucrative it becomes for local businesses to grow and thrive and the more attractive it is for new business to want to relocate in the area.

The economic impacts directly generated by visitor spending also contribute to significant (secondary impacts). A portion of the business receipts generated by visitor spending is spent by businesses within Arizona for other goods and services (indirect impacts). Visitor generated earnings are also spent by employees for goods and services produced in Arizona (induced impacts).

If you are not familiar here are two basic kinds of secondary effects:

  • Indirect effects – Each business that provides goods or services to a tourism related industry benefits indirectly from tourist spending in lodging/restaurants & bars/gift shops.
  • Induced effects are the changes in sales, jobs and income in the region resulting from household spending of income earned either directly or indirectly from tourist spending. I.e. income in the local region creates additional sales and economic activity. People who are financially stable will stay in the area to support the infrastructure of the community.

So if tourism is a main-stay for the State of Arizona and for Tombstone…my other take away from the Governor’s conference was: What is everyone else doing to compete for the finite number of tourism dollars available?   Based on what I observed at the conference let me briefly outline some of what I learned…it’s not businesses as usual…I learned that all over the state, communities are working to create and support whatever they can  “locally”  to attract and capture the limited tourism dollars.  There are programs and partnerships, new industry like wineries, communities are trying to attract sporting events and they are investing in improvements to existing venues. Cities are investing in the local businesses and the community to maintain and attract visitors.

Let me briefly touch on two near-by communities that are in the process of trying to rejuvenate themselves by re-branding.

The New Old Tucson –Their website reads: If you haven’t visited Old Tucson in the last four months, you haven’t visited! In addition to a new Native Village, you’ll love Heritage Square featuring twelve new building sets and three new streets that bring back some of the magic of Old Tucson. Hollywood Production Designer Gene Rudolph whose credits include western classics Young Guns 2, The Great Gatsby and The Right Stuff, among others, created the design for the project.  Heritage Square provides a backdrop for audiences to experience the Old West as it was meant to be experienced.

  • New Heritage, Culture and History Focus – Learn what the Old West was really like with Living History Presentations that are both educational and entertaining. Vintage characters throughout the town cover topics including Schools on the Frontier, Travel by Stagecoach, The Life of a Sheriff as well as several other interesting subjects.
  • Cowboy Music Festival and Western Art Show at Old Tucson & Join Terrain Mud Runs & Get dirty with Us

Marana – They have recently reworked their Strategic Marketing Plan:

  • Commerce
  • Community
  • Recreation (programs)
  • Innovation
  • Heritage

Once, only a farming/ranching community, they are rebranding themselves also. They hoping to use the new outlet mall as an anchor to attract and retain visitors. They are creating programs and events for a strong local community and visitors alike.  They might even recreate a main street as there city does not have one.

If you are not familiar:  What is Rebranding?: Rebranding happens once a business or organization decides to alter a major component of their image. Changes might be somewhat obvious such as a new logo or it may be more of a small change in communication to better connect with customers. Such changes are vital in much ever-adapting market and rebranding provides a competitive edge when done right. Rebranding broadens the customer base, or can redefine a business in a more professional sense by eliminating previous negative image, or by modernizing to better fit the current market. It can upstart a stalling business by regaining lost-market share if market has become more competitive.

Maintaining the Competitive Edge:  Local business owners should support each other with competitively priced goods and services.   In other words, selling goods and services at a fair market price which will make shopping local possible. 

In closing, I would like to say that we are a top destination and What does this mean to Tombstone? 

  • We, the businesses and community, need to embrace our long timeline of history; cultivate it and promote it from within.  
  • All decisions need to be made in the best interest of the community and businesses of Tombstone.  
  • Everything we do impacts our community!  

We need to support who and what is here and want the best for one another because  the success of the individual will equal the success of the community….Even seemingly small decisions, actions and/or lack of planning can have an enormous ripple effect on our community.

Thank you for reading our weekly newsletters and supporting the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce.