Are Gas Prices Affecting Tourism?
By: CJ Cassidy
Summer is a time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and maybe take a road trip or two.
That's what employees at tourist spots count on, across the Heartland.
But, is the tourism industry taking a beating, with gas prices hovering between $2.65 and a little over $3 in some areas?
You might think the charming wineries of Ste. Genevieve and the rustic flair of Giant City Lodge in Makanda have nothing to do with you, but keep in mind, they wouldn't exist without you, the tourist.
"People drive down from Evansville to eat chicken. It's unbelievable. I wouldn't drive that far to eat. I'd stop on the way, but I'm glad they do," said Richard Kelley of Giant City Lodge.
But businessmen like Kelley realize prices at the pump could keep even the hungriest customer away. They hope advertising campaigns remind folks there's more to the lodge than a hot meal, no matter how tasty it might be.
"It's historic. The building was built back in the Depression. A lot of elderly people want to see the work their dad put into the facility," Kelley said.
A trip to Ste. Genevieve's Crown Country would give you far more than a chance to sample some wine. The newly re-opened tiger sanctuary boasts a whole family of rescued cats and even a lion cub.
"Everybody wants to see the tigers and the lion," said Chris Spence with Crown Country.
If that's not enough get your attention, employees say the host of special offers and promotions online are sure to have you hitting the road.
Even local ferry operators, say they're changing the way they work.
"We advertise, to keep people coming back, and we also have deals and specials for customers who use RVs and so on. Special tourism discounts if you will," said Dallen Rhymel, a ferry operator.