Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

Market Kansas to Kansans

November 1, 2003


Attracting tourists to Kansas is not high on my shopping list.

Cheezits are high on my shopping list. So is getting a seat behind the Kansas University bench for a home basketball game.

Marketing Kansas, however, is a big deal to the State Travel and Tourism Division. Division officials say they want to spend $300,000 to lure tourists to Kansas -- by gunpoint if necessary. If they pull that off, Alaska plans to hire them to sell beach towels to Eskimos.

The state tourism folks say Kansas needs, among other things, a new logo, a new slogan and an overall new image. A new state song and some oceanfront resorts would also help.

This plan strikes me as a waste of money, not to put too fine a point on it. Kansas already has a catchy slogan ("Ad astra per aspera, everyone!"). So Californians are unimpressed with Kansas as a vacation destination? Like we really care. See how they like Nebraska. As for a new logo, someone will have to remind me what the old one looks like.

If Kansas has $300,000 sitting around that isn't needed to lease more government vehicles, then here is what we should do with it: Instead of luring strangers and outsiders to our state, let's market Kansas to Kansans.

Most people never visit the tourist attractions in their own city or state. I'll bet most of you have dropped a month's paycheck at Disney World or the San Diego Zoo but not once have you taken your family to the Eisenhower Presidential Library at Abilene. Right? I thought so.

Have you visited Mount Sunflower, the state's highest point? Or the rock sculptures at Rock City or the breathtaking lookout at White Cloud?

I'll bet you'd visit these places if Kansas launched the $300,000 OzMobile, an air-conditioned tour bus that would travel the state taking Kansans to all our homegrown tourist attractions. You could hop on the bus in your hometown and ride it to Joe and Sondra Hedricks' Exotic Animal Farm at Nickerson.

You could have breakfast at the Sunflower Cafe, a diner in Enterprise that prides itself as a haven for people who like to sit around and tell lies. The tour would take in the American Fan Collectors Assn. museum in Andover and maybe Charles Ballentine's home south of Concordia, which is actually a redecorated Atlas missile silo.

If you like this idea, then call the Travel and Tourism Division. Tell them that before Kansas spends money changing its image, we should first help Kansans discover the truly unique entertainment their state has to offer. If you think this idea stinks, I have another one. Just give the money to me. For $300,000 I'm sure I could get a couple great seats to a Jayhawk basketball game.

David Chartrand is a syndicated columnist who lives in Olathe.

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