The Saratoga Sun -

Be an ambassador

 


The Good Times Valley has a lot to offer people both from out-of-town and out-of-state. We are home to a number of inclusive resorts, the only hot springs outside of Yellowstone and Thermopolis and world-class dining. The Hotel Wolf, Bella’s Bistro and Firewater Public House have either been long standing institutions or have quickly cemented themselves as attractions within our town.

Along with all of that we also have great fishing, wonderful hunting and some great hikes ranging from easy to expert in their difficulty. Whether we want to admit it or not, our little piece of Wyoming has become a resort destination for people throughout the world. Having moved here in 1999 I spent my high school years, and after, working at the local grocery store.

I found myself to have a love-hate relationship with “tourist season.”

I loved that we had people coming into our community and supporting our economy. What I didn’t love, though, was the occasional visitor who seemed to be under the impression that they were better than other people or that our only purpose was to serve them. This, I think, is a feeling likely shared by other people in other resort towns.

Something changed recently, however, in my views on tourists and tourism. Since starting at the Saratoga Sun, I have made it a goal to take a walk at least once a day around town. Either I’m going to check my mail, grabbing something for lunch or heading for a nearby interview. As I walk, I will see people on the street who are obviously not from around here.

When I was younger I would simply walk by the tourists believing, in my youthful arrogance and ignorance, that whatever mission I was on was more important than helping people find their way around town. Now, however, I stop and ask if I can help them find anything. Sometimes I can, other times they are just taking a tour.

No matter the case, I figure that it is worth taking some time out of my day to either direct them to where they are wanting to go or inform them of all our town has to offer.

“What are you hungry for? If you want some good Italian food, go to Bella’s. If you are a fan of spirits, make sure to visit Firewater Public House. If a nice atmosphere is what you’re looking for, try the Hotel Wolf.”

I could chalk this eagerness to helping people find their way around town as just part of working at the newspaper, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s the reason. Honestly, after living in the Valley for nearly 20 years and seeing the changes our community has gone through as well as the terrible boom and bust cycles that plague our state, I think I want to try and ensure tourists have a good time because our future depends on it.

Agriculture has had, and continues to have, a large role in our community. The energy industry will affect us one way or another, whether it is oil and gas, wind energy or solar. Tourism, though, has become a constant for us and is a vital part of our community and our economy.

Each of us, every last person in this Valley, is an ambassador for our community. People who come to our little slice of Wyoming will go on to talk about the experience they had here and, as much as it pains me to say this, word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertisement. If someone visits Saratoga, Encampment, Riverside or any other part of southern Carbon County they will go on to tell their friends about it.

This can either be a positive for us or it can be a negative. Next time you’re walking down the street and you see someone who looks like they might be a little lost, or if you have someone ask if you’re local, consider taking some time out of your day and helping them out. That one positive experience for them could have untold positive outcomes for our community. It’s also possible you may just make a connection for the next time you are traveling.

Don’t be afraid to be an ambassador for your town and your community.

 

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