Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gov. Nixon working to boost number of state parks visitors, reverse trend that saw attendance fall 18.6 percent from 1999 to 2008

Missouri Governor's Office

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - In remarks Wednesday to tourism leaders meeting in
Branson and again today to the Regional Business Council in St. Louis,
Gov. Jay Nixon outlined a new initiative to jumpstart the state's
tourism industry by promoting Missouri's state parks. The Governor's
goal is to boost attendance at the 83 state parks and historic sites
and thereby encourage families to spend more of their tourism dollars
in Missouri.

"Our parks represent Missouri's rich diversity of landscapes,
ecosystems and cultural landmarks - from canyons to caves, waterways
to woodlands, and Civil War battlefields to artists' homes," Gov.
Nixon said. "Boosting attendance at our state parks will help preserve
a vital part of our Missouri heritage. It also will help grow our
tourism industry, even in light of our current economic challenges."

In 1999, more than 18.2 million people visited Missouri state parks.
The number of visitors to the parks in 2008 was 14.8 million, a
decrease of 18.6 percent in 10 years.

"When times are tight, families are looking for value - but they also
want a quality experience," Gov. Nixon said. "That's where our state
parks come in. For single visitors, retired couples or families with
minivans full of kids, our state parks offer visitors the value they
need with the unparalleled quality they want. We've got excellent
destinations in every region of our state. We just need to market our
parks as part of the complete package families are looking for."

The Governor pointed to the beginning of construction on the Rock
Island connector of the Katy Trail as one way to increase parks
attendance in coming years. The connector will link the Kansas City
area with the Katy Trail at Windsor. The Governor said the
west-to-east construction will enable Kansas City area hikers and
bicyclists to enjoy the cross-state trail as soon as possible.

In September, the Governor appointed Bill Bryan as deputy director of
the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and as director of the
department's Division of State Parks. Bryan, an avid outdoorsman, most
recently served as the state's chief information officer.

"Bill is experienced and dynamic, and he will bring a diverse set of
skills to this position," the Governor said. "I'm confident Bill will
do a terrific job, especially in forging the link between the Internet
and promoting our state parks to a nationwide and worldwide audience
of potential visitors.

"This is about moving our entire tourism industry forward," Gov. Nixon
said. "We're talking about using our state parks to grow the size of
the entire tourism pie so that all of our destinations and attractions
benefit.

"Many of the sharpest minds in our tourism industry are in this room
today," the Governor told those at the tourism conference in Branson.
"As we look carefully at our resources and decide the best path
forward, Bill Bryan and his team will be calling on you for ideas and
suggestions. Together, we'll find the most effective ways to harness
the potential of our state parks for the benefit of our tourism
industry and the entire state."

Missouri State Parks attendance 1999-2008

1999 -- 18,253,665

2000 -- 17,905,808

2001 -- 18,103,284

2002 -- 17,372,491

2003 -- 17,029,380

2004 -- 17,202,254

2005 -- 17,200,504

2006 -- 16,104,996

2007 -- 16,140,082

2008 -- 14,856,930
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