Scott Larson, the new Albany County Tourism Board and Visit Laramie executive director, said he was first introduced to Albany County when he went on a first date with his now wife, Annalise, to Laramie Jubilee Days.
“I think Brewfest was our second date, and that was where I asked her to dance for the first time,” he told the Boomerang Thursday. “So, we have fond memories.”
He spent more and more time in town to visit her as she worked on her doctorate at the University of Wyoming, and they were married last fall. After former director Fred Ockers retired in late April, Larson stepped in, and he said he’s been learning as much as he can in these first few weeks.
Before moving to Wyoming, Larson spent seven years working in marketing and tourism in Colorado, including in Vail and Steamboat Springs ski resorts as well as the Steamboat Springs Chamber. He said the chamber there, much like the Albany County Tourism Board, looks at marketing “the county and the destination as a whole.”
“I’m also a big believer, because of my background working for a chamber, that tourism can be a big economic driver,” he said. “I get excited about promoting our area, our county, our city and then seeing local businesses prosper as a result of that.”
Despite being a former “Greenie,” Larson said everyone locally — and even statewide — has been more than welcoming and supportive. The “amazing community” in Albany County is appealing not only to the locals that choose to live here, he said, but potential visitors as well. Whether it’s someone stopping in Laramie on their way to another destination, someone planning to relocate to the county or a student visiting town to tour the University of Wyoming, he said he has a “a passion for sharing those experiences with people in a variety of ways.”
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here; Laramie has a very authentic, real history and culture,” he said. “People are looking for authentic experiences, and I’m excited about that.”
Wanting to “tell our story” and emphasize that authenticity, Larson said Albany County has a unique mix of outdoor adventure, western history, collegiate atmosphere and more that are worth highlighting and exploring.
Although his focus is showing off all Albany County has to offer — and, of course, increasing tourism dollars — Larson said he has some more concrete goals as well, including trying to attract more conferences to choose Laramie as a host city.
“I think that’s beneficial in a lot of ways, because people come out for a conference and then they return or they get exposed to the university for the first time,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”
Hoping to revamp its marketing efforts, Larson said ACTB is “looking at where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go.” Additionally, he wants to increase its online presence, looking to modernize its efforts.
“You can definitely expect to see a larger digital presence from us going forward,” he said.
Expenditures of the Albany County Tourism Board are funding by a 4% lodging tax, which by state statute, is required to be spent on marketing of local tourism opportunities and grants that promote tourism.