I had the recent privilege of taking an Ohio road trip from Columbus to Dayton and Dayton to Toledo. As we drove through rural Ohio, the countryside sparkled from the sunshine. Downtown Dayton looked pristine and when we walked into the Crown Plaza, the community support surrounding tourism was notable. The Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau celebrated National Tourism Week by honoring those who have made their mark on the industry in 2014 – from bringing in major events to providing outstanding hospitality.
Sharing the 2014 economic impact data underscored the significance of Ohio tourism to Dayton community leaders as the region played an important role in helping the state reach 200 million visitors last year. Equally as impressive was Northwest Ohio’s role in driving economic prosperity through events such as the Biggest Week of American Birding.
Maumee Bay State Park was serene and filled with colorful birds and visitors from all over the world with binoculars in-hand. Tourism Day, hosted by the Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau was a great opportunity to experience the “Ohio experience” in action. The Maumee Bay State Park employees were warm and inviting, the grounds were picturesque as a willow tree blew in the breeze off Lake Erie, and the excitement around bird sightings was contagious!
I particularly enjoyed hearing the passion for Ohio and its birding attributes from Kim Kaufman of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. She spoke about the years of dedication and marketing that have helped The Biggest Week of American Birding grow to 80,000 visitors from 45 states and 22 countries. Kim’s excitement around Ohio bird migration is inspiring, as was her support of the tourism industry and partnership opportunities that have helped the event achieve success.
My time out and about in Ohio this week emphasized the fact that travel is driven not by product alone – but by emotion. It’s the excitement of spotting rare migrating birds with a group of your closest friends or the smiles exchanged as you see a massive WWII fighter plane with your kids at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
I am encouraged by what we will accomplish for Ohio tourism in the months and years to come with this emotional aspect of tourism in mind.
Thanks for all you do -
For the Good of Ohio,
Mary L. Cusick