Tourism professionals push 'destination marketing' -- including Bison World, proposed for Jamestown
A tourism consultant working on the proposed “Bison World” destination attraction says it’s the kind of attraction young families are looking for.
Brian Lunde is serving in a pro-bono capacity on the Bison World Fund. Bison World would be an amusement park, that would be adjoining the current Frontier Village in Jamestown, which has the “world’s largest buffalo monument.
Lunde said Bison World will be an attraction.
"Studies have shown that, especially with millennial, young families with disposable income — they want structured entertainment, they want instant gratification," Lunde said in an interview. "This is why, in theme parks and amusement parks, attendance dwarfs state and national parks, because of the phenomenon that, 'I want a unique experience, unique entertainment."
Lunde said we live in a "United States of Entertainment. And he said we have to deal with what people want to spend their money on.
Lunde said Bison World would also be a good fit with other attractions North Dakota has to offer – such as the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, under construction in Medora. He said North Dakota can offer everything – from camping to carousel.
"When kids get out of the car, they want to run toward the carousel," Lunde said. "Most of them are not going to go pitch a tent."
Lunde said the state has to do both well.
"We are now at that point, where we have to face that fact," Lunde said. "Are we going to relate to where people want to spend their money. They spend it on destination developments."
Suzie Kenner is the director of the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce, and she has been working on destination marketing plans for the Devils Lake Region. She said the Legislature put $25 million toward destination development.
"They (Tourism) had 81 applications for projects, and $151 million in asks," Kenner said. "That $25 million won't go a long way, but it will help."
Kenner said it's an eye-opener.
"Everyone in our state should realize this is a big deal," Kenner said.
Lunde said other states are seeing public investment in destination developments.
"Public commitment precedes private investment," Lunde said. "It's a model that has been in-place for 40 years."
And Lunde said once the commitment is there, then you will see naming rights people and sponsorship people.
"The private sector will pour in," Lunde said.
Kenner and Lunde were on a tourism panel at the Greater North Dakota Chamber’s Policy Summit in Bismarck.