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Archive for Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kan., Okla. promote heartland

July 26, 2009

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— Kansas and Oklahoma are working together to promote the rural heartland to foreign media and tourists.

The number of international tourists visiting the area has increased steadily, said Lisa Weight, international marketing and public relations representative for the two states.

Recently a crew from Germany’s largest public television station, ARD, filmed a travel documentary in the Flint Hills about the Santa Fe Trail. Footage is slated to be shown on TV in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

“This is the type of documentary that will entice European travelers to consider a trip to Kansas,” said Becky Blake, director of the Kansas Travel and Tourism Division.

Weight said the film will help attract foreign travelers looking for authentic Old West experiences.

The crew has visited the Oklahoma City stockyard, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism has reported more than 35,000 overseas travelers came to Kansas last year.

Kansas’ travel and tourism division spent $4,500 to host international journalists last year and that turned into the equivalent of $4.6 million worth of advertising, Weight said.

“Kansas has a special, almost mythical, place in our nation’s history and culture,” Blake said. “For that reason, Kansas is also fascinating to Europeans looking to learn about the American experience.”

Weight said travel agencies market fly-and-drive trips to Kansas and Oklahoma.

“Kansas and Oklahoma are secondary destination sites,” Weight said. “The people coming to us have already been to Florida, New York, Arizona, Utah and Las Vegas. They are seeking authentic, real-deal type of destinations and would like to get off the beaten track.”

While international traveling has dropped with the struggling economy, those traveling here will likely seek out small towns, heritage sites, gambling, concerts and camping, said Richard Champley, senior research analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Germans are still traveling and are looking to get experiences for their money, said Karl Teuschl, reporter and director for ARD, the German public TV station.

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