Tourism could be on the up and up throughout Albany County, but there is no question about whether interest is increasing, Laramie Area Visitor Center Executive Director Fred Ockers said.
“In the last two years, we’ve printed over 120,000 visitor guides,” Ockers said. “Between 2006-2012, we were printing about 30,000-40,000 a year. But more and more people are picking them up.”
Determining how many tourists roll through Albany County each day can be a guessing game at the best of times, but one way Ockers and his team measures visitor interest is the number of visitor guides that disappear from display racks located throughout the region.
While the Albany County Tourism Board hoped to grow tourism through additional marketing efforts, Ockers said his team, which works for the board, expected interest to wane in the print version of the visitor guide and refocus on the center’s digital offerings like its website, www.visitlaramie.org.
Indeed, the website has seen increased activity in the form of about 140,000 more visits in 2017 than in 2015, Laramie Area Visitor Center Assistant Director Mike Gray said.
The center’s Facebook page has also received a boost in viewership, with more than 17,000 followers currently, he added.
“Based on these numbers, I think we’re getting more visitors,” Ockers said.
Additionally, he said the number of people requesting digital versions of the visitor’s guide has exploded. In 2015, the center received 625 requests for the digital version, but in 2017, the number of requests jumped to 3,999, Ockers said.
The key to the increasing interest is in getting the word out to the right people.
“I would hope we’ve refined our marketing down to the right areas, and this is a result of those efforts,” Ockers said. “Maybe these people were going to visit Wyoming already, but Laramie wasn’t necessarily on their map. If you can at least get them to think about staying a day or two here, you’re doing pretty good.”
The effects of increased tourism to the region could take years to quantify, but for now, Ockers hopes to help Albany County continue trending.
“Our next step is to sit down with the board and develop a strategy for keeping our momentum strong,” he said.