Friday, April 18, 2014

MYERS: Celebrate county’s attractions

By JENALEA MYERS, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau | 5/3/2013

I have a confession.

I’m a road trip junkie. If something involves a few hours in a vehicle and the open road, I’m in. Most people cringe at the thought of spending more than an hour in a car, but I think they’re just missing the big picture.

I have a confession.

I’m a road trip junkie. If something involves a few hours in a vehicle and the open road, I’m in. Most people cringe at the thought of spending more than an hour in a car, but I think they’re just missing the big picture.

As National Travel and Tourism Week — May 4-12 — nears, I’m reminded about the many great attractions you can find across the country, the state of Kansas and locally in Franklin County.

You might not realize it as you pass by these local gems every day, but thousands of people travel to Franklin County each year to see what the county has to offer. Some might be on a weekend getaway or maybe just passing through on their way to their end destination. Others come to visit students at Ottawa University or Neosho County Community College or to attend the many fairs and festivals celebrated each year.

In 2012, 3,790 people signed the guest registry at the Franklin County Visitor Information Center in search of info. They came from all across the country — and even some from around the world — in search of information on local attractions and businesses in Franklin County and maps and other details about surrounding counties and states. That’s in addition to the hundreds of requests the county’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau receives each year to mail brochures and guides throughout the area.

Regardless of why visitors come here, travelers and tourists provide an opportunity to share the great features we have locally.

Most people are familiar with the Old Depot Museum at 135 W. Tecumseh St. in Ottawa, but have you ever actually visited it? The museum always is displaying new exhibits relevant to Franklin County residents, like its current exhibit, “Workin’ on the Railroads.”

I don’t know about you, but I love barbecue. Have you visited Guy and Mae’s Tavern in Williamsburg — one of the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 2010 8 Wonders of Kansas in the restaurant category?

Have you experienced the many downtown stores and restaurants? Have you explored the Flint Hills Nature Trail or Prairie Spirit Rail Trail or taken a driving tour of the county’s quilt blocks?

The list goes on. Franklin County truly offers a wide variety of attractions to not only the people who call it home but to the many visitors just passing through.

To celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, we’ve planned two events at the Visitor Information Center, 2011 E. Logan St., Ottawa. First was a Chamber Coffee Friday. Next is an open house 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday to help mark the celebration of the tourism week. You’re encouraged to wear red — the official color supporting travel and tourism — at Friday’s event, which will feature refreshments and an opportunity to view a quilt made locally that represents what you see as you drive across Kansas.

The people who serve locally in the travel and tourism industry are just as important as the attractions themselves. Employees of hotels, restaurants and other businesses and many volunteers play a significant role in the impression Franklin County leaves on a visitor.

But even if you don’t work or volunteer in the travel and tourism industry, you still can have a positive impact on the visitors of the area.

It’s everyone’s job to tell and show people the many great things about Franklin County.

Jenalea Myers is social media and special projects manager at the Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Email her at marketing@visitottawakansas.com

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