This time I want to talk about our activity in an area I work for as a volunteer. The only positive change I have seen at the Truman Courthouse in two years is the availability of volunteer tour guides to show people from around the USA and the world where Harry Truman began his political career. Now we don’t have enough volunteers to completely staff our Visitor Experience Center.
No tours were available, due to some personnel changes. The Visitor Experience Center was instructed to make tours of the courthouse available. Paid and volunteer personnel were required to attend a tour, then create the tours of one large historical treasure. We need more volunteers to staff these tour positions, as well as greet the many visitors we receive Monday through Saturday, every week.
Tourists and locals come in to find out what’s happening and to get a chance to experience some history. The Courthouse, with three entrances and addresses, is a rendition of Independence Hall that Harry Truman brought to the taxpayers of Jackson County in 1933. He served as the county executive and that earned him the title of Presiding Judge.
I see inactivity on the part of Tourism, because there are no ideas discussed in public or with the dedicated volunteers of the Visitor Experience Center. The City Council has passed a measure to regulate the motels and the State of Missouri sold us the building that houses the National Frontier Trails Museum and archive. These are features without described benefits, in my opinion. A first year marketing student knows that these changes could be described in terms that benefit tourism and how that could bring tax dollars to our economy.
I don’t have much of an idea of where Tourism is going. We have a lot to offer, but seem limited to Harry Truman and Santa-Cali-Gon. It’s the end of the season for many of our other treasures and it is too late for anything to happen now. We can hope for an early thaw, but where will the visitors go, until April? I generally direct them to lunch spots, because we don’t have much else to offer.
For example, the Diamond Bowl does a great business during the winter months. They added billiards to the entertainment venue and it is starting to take off. I suspect the same is true for the Pharaoh Theater. The Independence Center Mall depends on Christmas sales to keep the lights on, while the potential tourism dollars pass us by.
I don’t hear about anything on the radar to promote tourism, which seems ineffective from my viewpoint. How can I tell tourists about things they might not know about if we don’t have anything more than some flyers telling us what is going on? We pay taxes for Tourism, so are we getting our money’s worth? I hope these questions can be answered as we head into another off-season.