Tourism Ready To Push Go Button After Pandemic

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Benton County Tourism and Recreation (BCTR) has been planning even more new, and innovative ways to attract tourists to the area when governmental safety guidelines permit. Benton County is in a good location that attracts tourists. It is rural, and is rich in conservation areas, lakes and parks where social distancing can continue to be done and so that people can stay safe. Marketing efforts will move forward to help jumpstart local businesses and will focus on the following.
•Radio ads on 95.3 KDKD and 93.5 Rocks - advertising for future tourism visits and informational interviews
•Print publications with Rural MO Magazine (June and July)
•Show Me Missouri Magazine
•Special Editions of Columbia Missourian and St Louis Post Dispatch
•Social media
•Website blogs
•Monthly newsletters
•Themes will be:  Staycations, summer fun, best places to go in MO, explore Benton County treasures, Best of Benton County dining, adventures in Benton County, family fun to name a few.
“Our plans are to roll out the above plans in the next few weeks so that we have visibility with tourists who want to travel closer to home,” said Lynette Stokes, Executive Director of BCTR. “Staycations may become the temporary norm, and they will allow for summer activities at less cost than a vacation further away. At this time we don’t have plans to discontinue or postpone any of our approved marketing plans for 2020. But, plans could change if our projected lodging tax revenue is less than anticipated. Our second quarter will be affected by how well lodging has fared during the past couple of months.”
Stokes says that she wants local businesses to thrive, and BCTR will continue to encourage shopping local. At the present time the public is encouraged to visit restaurants and other self-sustaining businesses that have drive-through, curbside services, or delivery to help the businesses, and to allow customers to stay protected and away from crowds. When businesses that are presently closed begin to open again, public support will be essential to helping them revitalize.
Stokes said that summer festivals and events also help promote tourism and will help give the economy a boost.  It is a positive sign that festivals are still scheduled to take place this summer. 
“All of us in Benton County are working together to promote tourism,” said Stokes. “All three Chambers of Commerce and the BCTR meet monthly to partner and share ideas.”