One of the questions we posed in an Oct. 1 editorial when the city was studying public-vs.-private future management of the Tyson Events Center was this: What will happen to the tourism arm of the Events Facilities Department under private management?
The answer will be clear soon.
On Oct. 16, the City Council voted for private management of Tyson (and the Orpheum Theatre) by Philadelphia-based Spectra. Contract discussions between the city and Spectra have begun, with an eye toward a Jan. 1 start for the new arrangement.
Those discussions include tourism. At a meeting with members of the Events Facilities Advisory Board on Oct. 27, a Spectra representative said Spectra is willing to assume tourism responsibilities.
We are pleased to hear tourism won't fall by the wayside in the transition from public to private management. We believe having a blueprint for marketing our community as a destination for visitors is important.
To the extent possible, Sioux City should be a player in Iowa's annual $8 billion tourism industry.
In our view, these 10 questions should drive city dialogue with Spectra as the two sides work on a strategy for tourism as part of the new Tyson-Orpheum management contract:
- How do we, as a city, define success in tourism? In other words, what do we want to result from tourism promotion?
- What is a realistic goal for visitation?
- How much is our city willing to spend to boost tourism (today, the Events Facilities Department budgets roughly $20,000 per year)?
- What is the view of tourism by stakeholders such as hotel and restaurant owners?
- Is local tourism generated only by specific events, like concerts, or do untapped opportunities exist for attraction of visitors not tied to events?
- Should we market only to Siouxland? To Midwest states? To the nation?
- What opportunities for cross-promotion of tourism (between, for one example, the city and the Loess Hills) exist and should be pursued?
- What role, if any, does improved signage play in strengthening tourism (we question the value of signage, frankly)?
- What do other Midwest cities of our size do to promote tourism?
- Or, is tourism a waste of time and money?
In our view, the change to Spectra provides a valuable opportunity for fresh examination of why and how this city promotes tourism. Identifying clear answers to the aforementioned questions will, we believe, establish a strong foundation for these efforts moving forward.