This year the Teton Regional Economic Coalition was awarded its largest tourism marketing grant yet from the Idaho Travel Council, and will distribute the funding to local event organizers in order to bolster visitation in a meaningful way while preserving residents’ experiences as well.
“Not to throw around a cliché, but it’s really a ‘force multiplier,’” TREC executive director Brian McDermott said about the grant. “The beauty of event sponsorship is that we can provide a wonderful experience for residents and visitors alike. Local events by their nature celebrate and help benefit or preserve the elements of nature, culture, and sport that we all value here.”
Kristie Eggebroten, who has been administering TREC’s grants for around four years, “came in and supercharged our applications,” McDermott said. The organization began to see bigger awards, from $60,000 up to $140,000, but this year’s $191,100 is the biggest award yet.
McDermott said that anecdotally, he’s hearing that businesses in Teton Valley want to slow things down during peak season and beef up revenue in what little shoulder season we have left. A survey that TREC circulated this summer backs that finding up.
“How we do that and work within the ITC grant, which only measures visitor numbers, will take some smart ideas and collaboration,” he explained.
In his estimation, heads in beds, or hotel stays, are not the only measure of tourism success; local option tax receipts, which show how much money people are spending while they visit, are a better study in “quality” tourism.
“Every great place in the world is experiencing this boom,” McDermott added. “If we’re going to share our town and compromise our quality of life for the benefit of visitors, we should get paid well for it so we can afford to live decently.”
Some of the ongoing events that have used ITC funds in the past for marketing include the Teton Valley Balloon Rally, Driggs Snowscapes, Music On Main, and youth hockey tournaments.
The application likely won’t open until early in 2022, but McDermott said it isn’t too early to start thinking about if your event meets the ITC criteria. View this year’s application to get an idea of what the next round of awards will look like.