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State emphasizes outdoors in tourism campaign

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by Christen Jackson

SBJ Contributing Writer

The Show-Me State is taking a new approach to attracting tourists, encouraging them to not only "Wake Up To Missouri," but to enjoy the state "Where the Rivers Run."

The Missouri Tourism Commission has changed its advertising slogan, complete with a new logo. The new slogan, "Where the Rivers Run," is designed to reflect the public perception of the state's attractions.

According to the Missouri Tourism Commission, consumer research shows that Missouri travelers see the state as a scenic outdoor destination with plenty of family activities. In several studies, outdoor activity and natural beauty were primary motivators to travel to the state.

"As America enters a new millennium, there is an increasing level of public interest in rivers, not the least of which is the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark," said Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson, who chairs the commission, when he unveiled the new logo in December of last year.

"The Tourism Commission believes that Missouri is the one state that best illustrates that there's fun where the rivers run," he added.

Tourist dollars are increasingly important to Missouri's economy, according to Joseph L. Driskill, director of Missouri's Department of Economic Development. In 1996, the tourism and travel industry generated $11.1 billion in direct expenditures to Missouri, Driskill said.

In addition, there is a ripple effect on businesses that benefit from tourism which totals $6.06 billion in expenditures and an additional 80,000 jobs in the state. The annual payroll for jobs generated by tourism reached $4.7 billion in 1996,

"The tourism industry is big business in Missouri," Driskill said. "Since it has such a great impact, we have chosen tourism as one of our department's targeted industries."

The Department of Economic development has targeted several industries including tourism for substantial growth in the future.

"As the research has shown, we know that if we focus even more of our economic development efforts on tourism, as well as the other target industries, the entire economy will thrive."

While tourism is a statewide industry, and will be promoted as such, studies done by the Missouri Division of Tourism show that three tourism regions account for more than two-thirds of the total those are St. Louis, Kansas City and Ozark mountain country.

"There has been an increase in business visitors, and that's especially important," said Chris Jennings, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. "This is an opportunity for the industry. The business segment is one we must actively pursue."

A recent survey conducted by the Missouri Division of Tourism shows that, when compared with overall United States numbers, Missouri travel has:

?A higher incidence of business travel 21 percent in Missouri compared with 24 percent in other states.

?Auto travel is more prevalent 81 percent compared to 78 percent.

?Air travel is less prevalent 13 percent compared to 17 percent.

?A high incidence of participation in visits to theme/amusement parks 11 percent compared to 8 percent nationally.

The study showed that activities gaining popularity in Missouri include visits to historic places and museums; cultural events and festivals; sporting events; and participation in golf, tennis and skiing.

"Our new slogan was selected to convey not only the abundance of rivers and the popularity of related activities, such as canoeing and fishing, but also the historical significance of rivers to our state," Driskill said. "The new promotional campaign, along with the efforts of our targeted industry program, should keep tourists traveling to Missouri and tourism dollars flowing into the state's economy."

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