Dodge City and Ford County have plenty to offer tourists, but city and county officials must figure out the best way to promote those attractions, a consultant said Thursday.

    "There is a lot here to do," said Mike Husband of the consulting firm Heberling Associates. "But how do you market it, package it and sell it to visitors?"


Dodge City and Ford County have plenty to offer tourists, but city and county officials must figure out the best way to promote those attractions, a consultant said Thursday.
    "There is a lot here to do," said Mike Husband of the consulting firm Heberling Associates. "But how do you market it, package it and sell it to visitors?"
    Husband formally presented the new tourism master plan to the Dodge City and Ford County commissions during a joint meeting Thursday evening. The commissions voted unanimously to accept the plan, which outlines a series of strategies and goals for capitalizing on the area's Old West heritage to draw more tourists.
    The plan also includes a number of performance measures to gauge the city's and county's success in reaching those goals.
    The city and county paid for the plan with part of the proceeds from the "Why Not Dodge" sales tax fund, which finances a series of family entertainment-related projects.
    Ford County Commission Chairman Kim Goodnight said he was concerned about implementing the plan's recommendations while searching for financial support for many local attractions.
    "Are we kind of in that limbo period of 'Now we have the plan. How do we get buy-in on it, and how do we go about implementation without some sort of funding and so on and so forth?'" he said.
    Husband said he thought that local cultural and historic attractions would likely require some degree of public funding. He added that in his view, putting money into tourism is an investment, not an expense.
    "Consider the payback," he said.
    Dodge City Vice Mayor Rick Sowers later asked Husband when local officials might start gauging their progress toward achieving the plan's goals.
    "I imagine for a commission, that's going to be pretty important to have something measurable," he said. "Because that's probably the only way you're going to have continued funding for something like this, is to have some kind of performance measuring that a commission can fall back on and say, 'Well, look, this is the impact we're having.'"
    Husband said some of the plan's strategies could produce measurable results within the first three to 10 years, while others would take longer.
    Dodge City Trail of Fame President Jim Johnson urged the commissions to seek assistance from the community's tourism coalition, which consists of several local tourism-related organizations, in implementing the plan. He added that local officials did not have that resource available to them in the past.
    "You have such a group now," he said. "Please remember them."
    The commissions later asked the city's arts and tourism coordinator, Bob Lancaster, to form a group and draw up a list of tourism-related projects within the next 30 days. They asked the group to identify a mix of smaller projects — which could begin immediately — and larger tasks.

    EDITOR'S  NOTE: The meeting had not ended by press time, due to an early deadline. Check Saturday's edition of the Daily Globe for coverage of other developments.
   
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.