Mayor Wilson: 'Time to recapture that Eureka moment' to grow tourism

Friday, July 13, 2007

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Mayor Dani Wilson introduced a stream-lined chain of communication to handle tourism-related inquiries during a press conference on the steps of the Western District Courthouse late Wednesday morning.

With members of her Tourism Task Force at her side, she stressed that 'strong leadership by the city government is imperative" for tourism to flourish and said that her assistant, Diane Wilkerson, will serve as the liaison for communication between the city's various tourism groups and the public.

Wilson asked citizens to "focus on the positives and begin working together."

She then quoted Governor Mike Beebe, applying his words to the state legislature to Eureka Springs: "We are not enemies. We are friends, neighbors and families. This shouldn't be a battle between sides, but an agreement to work together for the greater good for all. It is okay to disagree, where we fail is in the process of enacting a compromise to work toward the positive."

Wilson went on to challenge citizens to recapture "that Eureka moment -- that moment when each of us discovered this magnificent place, when we know Eureka Springs was where we had to be and come back to making the possibilities we saw then into a reality today."

The mayor stated three goals established in a recent meeting with Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism: establishment of firm lines of communication; establishment of a method with which leads can be disseminated to those who can help land the leads, and once landed, to all who could benefit; and establishment of an identity, or brand.

She then introduced members of the Mayor's Tourism Task Force, including Ken Rundell of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission, Jeff Feldman of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, Jack Moyer of the Tourism Co-op; Marvin Peterson of the Attraction Association; Glenna Booth of Main Street Arkansas; Wilkerson of the mayor's office; CAPC Acting Director Joyce Zeller, and Bill Ott, past chair of the Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

She also stated that she will be forming a broader advisory panel of others working in the tourism industry.

With that she introduced Feldman, who stressed the importance of group travel to the Eureka Springs economy. To follow up on leads, he stated that an on-line request proposal form will be available on-line soon, and that Arkansas Parks and Tourism will be feeding leads to the city as well.

Rundell, while stating his dislike of flow charts, outlined a process to ensure a firm line of communication between the city and state with Wilkerson being the point person, making sure that information goes to the correct group or person.

As an example, he said that a group tour inquiry to the CAPC would go to Wilkerson who would then forward it to the Chamber of Commerce.

The method, Rundell said, would provide a way to track requests without them "falling between the cracks."

Finally, Ott addressed the city's brand: "Eureka Springs brings you together in a distinctively different way."

That phrase, he said, boasts the eclectic tapestry of what the town offers to families, religious groups and bikers. In addition, local businesses can use the brand in their own advertising, creating a community-wide synergy.

As the press conference came to a close, Wilson expressed pride in the task force and the state, and announced a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1 at the City Auditorium where persons can field ideas.

"Change is here," she said.

"It's time to take it and run with it."

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