Texas Rising March/April 2010

Canadian Develops Tourism Sector

Strategies for Success

The lesser prairie chicken is on birders’ must-see lists due to its unique breeding pattern.

Chicken as the Egg

When the oil and gas industry stopped carrying the local economy and downtown stores started closing more than a decade ago, Canadian needed a new way to keep the cash registers cha-chinging.

Canadian on map

Enter the lesser prairie chicken.

“They have a unique breeding pattern,” says Tamera Julian, executive director of Canadian-Hemphill County Community Development. “In the spring, we set you up with guides and you can view this. For birders, this is on their life’s list of things to see.”

For Canadian, it was the beginning of something big.

“We really understand that tourism is an industry that makes sense,” Julian says. “So we continue to try to look at new ideas.”

And the Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism (EDT) is helping. Last summer, Canadian turned to EDT for a formal assessment on how the small community of 2,200 at the northeastern tip of the Texas Panhandle can improve tourism.

Officials from EDT, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Council on the Arts visited Canadian in November to analyze each proposed tourist attraction and offer suggestions for maximizing appeal. They provided immediate feedback and created a comprehensive assessment.

“It was a SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” Julian says. “It nice to have all that in one place, so as we look for strategic planning, five, 10 years ahead, it gives us ideas on what to focus.”

Step Right Up!

State office helps communities promote what makes them unique

by Mark Wangrin

Does your community have an unusually large jackrabbit? A goat cook-off? Unique shopping opportunities, from the quirky to the quaint? Texas’ message to you: If you bill it, they will come.

Communities across the state looking to promote what makes them distinctive — and add much-welcomed tourism dollars to their economies – can turn to the Office of the Governor Economic Development & Tourism (EDT). It provides multiple resources, including guidebooks, an interactive Web-based instructional program and plain old advice from its staff.

EDT’s Texas Tourism research manager Louri O’Leary says she advises communities to identify the one thing they have that others don’t — “Like the Boardwalk in Kemah and the Stockyards in Fort Worth,” she says.

Communities can request an evaluation by the EDT, which sends staff members to visit proposed attractions and offer suggestions for maximizing visitor appeal and profitability. Representatives from agencies that deal with particular types of attractions — such as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for nature trails — also are available to provide feedback.

As many as six communities can partner for tourism advertising in magazines with the Governor’s Economic Development Tourism Office, as part of its signature “Texas. It’s like a whole other country” media campaign.

EDT staff provides communities with a detailed assessment, which can be used to aid short- and long-term planning.

The EDT Web page includes a five-section, step-by-step process for developing a tourism plan.

EDT stresses teamwork among smaller communities. One of its newer initiatives is the Texas Quilt Trail, a statewide string of displays of stitching patterns representing each county, with the idea that it will encourage quilting enthusiasts to hit the road.

Terry County Quilt Trail, Country Farm

Communities have teamed up for the Texas Quilt Trail, a statewide display of stitching patterns representing each county.

Several times each year, EDT organizes foreign and domestic sales and media missions to drum up tourism. O’Leary says communities often combine their dollars and send one representative.

The cooperative approach also works for advertising. As many as six communities can partner for tourism advertising in magazines, as part of the state’s “Texas — It’s like a whole other country” media campaign. TR

To have the EDT assess tourism in your community, visit the Economic Development and Tourism site or call (512) 936-0101.
To whisk around Texas’ biggest, wildest and most amazing tourist attractions, steer your keyboard to TravelTex.com.
Take a virtual peek at Canadian, the self-billed “Oasis of the Panhandle.”