Chambers of commerce partner for Current River marketing campaign

Monday, August 15, 2011
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VAN BUREN, Mo. -- The Current River is already wildly popular in Southeast Missouri, but local chambers of commerce believe there's room for improvement.

This summer, the Ozark Riverways Marketing Group launched a new website for the Current River, www.seecurrentriver.com, and shot a 30-second television commercial for use in the Springfield, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff, Mo., markets, as well as the Paducah, Ky., and Jonesboro, Ark., areas.

"Our goals are simple: Promote the awesome natural beauty and attraction of the Current River and the surrounding communities as a tourism destination," says Steve Halter, president of the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce. The marketing group, which started in June 2010, includes chamber of commerce representatives from Poplar Bluff, Eminence, Van Buren, Doniphan, Salem and West Plains, Mo. It is the first time the chambers have partnered in such a big way.

"The Van Buren Area Chamber of Commerce tourism committee wanted to market our area on a significant scale but, like many small towns, does not have the financial resources," says Matt Bedell, a member of the Van Buren chamber's tourism committee and marketing director at The Landing. "We came up with the idea to approach other communities that also relied on Current River tourism and try to pool our resources to create a marketing campaign. Our goal from the beginning has been to market the area via mixed media on a significant scale."

Bedell describes the website as a guide for tourists before and during their trip to the Current River. The site features community pages where users can view photos and videos, read about upcoming events and see a directory of businesses listed by category.

Halter and Bedell believe marketing the river and its surrounding communities as a tourism destination will boost the local economy, making the area a vacation destination with more jobs, income, businesses, economic development -- and perhaps a lasting impact on visitors.

"They will have a chance to enjoy what we all have been enjoying our entire life," says Halter. "Hopefully, once they see all that this area has to offer, they will consider visiting more regularly or relocating their business or family to our communities."

Next, says Halter, the group plans to develop a strategic, long-term plan for promoting the Current River area.

"While summer is the most popular season for Current River, we are hoping to build our funds through corporate sponsors, business sponsors and additional communities in the Current River region to be able to run more commercials promoting the spring and fall seasons, which may be the best times of the year to experience all the natural resources," says Bedell. "In addition, we plan to expand the site with more tourist-related information."

Did you know...

The Current River was chosen Best Weekend Float by voters in AAA's Best of the Midwest poll this year.

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