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County to boost tourism promotion

Tom Hintgen/FOCUS The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners is providing seed money for an updated website and enhanced communications and marketing, coordinated by the Otter Tail Country Tourism Association.

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, recognizing the impact that tourism has on the economic well-being of the county, has approved spending $30,000 with the Otter Tail Country Tourism Association.

Commissioners see the funding as seed money for an updated website and enhanced communications and marketing.

Most members of the tourism association, such as resort owners, are based in Otter Tail County. A few are located just outside county lines.

"We in the tourism association plan to be a one-stop shop resource," said Nick Leonard of East Silent Lake Resort while addressing county board members at a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5 in Fergus Falls. "We plan to integrate with social media, and vacationers will be able to plan an entire week of events at a certain resort and include nearby activities and restaurants in Otter Tail County."

The effort is being made to make Otter Tail County not only a summer destination but also a spring, fall and winter destination.

Commission Chairman Doug Huebsch said that investing in tourism promotion has a high return. The other four commissioners (Wayne Johnson, Lee Rogness, Roger Froemming and John Lindquist) concurred.

"More businesses will likely advertise on an updated website," said Nicole Lalum of Thumper Pond. "Individual resorts realize that a comprehensive marketing plan is too expensive and difficult to implement alone."

Leonard said that the new website will be self-sustaining. He also emphasized to county board members that the association will continue to promote area tourism at trade and sport shows along the Interstate 29 corridor that includes the cities of Sioux Falls, S.D., Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.

"Better branding of tourism in Otter Tail County and nearby areas will coincide with website enhancements," said Brandon Knowles of Duluth-based Faster Solutions. He has been hired by the tourism association to coordinate the upcoming Internet changes.

The association, on its website, emphasizes that area businesses offer everything needed by tourists, from banks to bait shops, hospitals to hardware stores, real estate agents to retail stores, restaurants and other goods and services.