February 28th, 2009
On February 26, 2009, the Billings Gazette published a story that tribal museums are better at attracting tourism than casinos (get the entire article):
“Gambling doesn’t draw tourists to Montana’s Indian Country, but museums do. That’s one of the conclusions that came out of a survey conducted by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. . . .
“I think one of the big take-home messages in our state, anyway, is that gambling is not going to draw vacationers to Indian Country,” she said. “I think a lot of other states use that as a draw.”
Only 18 percent of people who visited a reservation indicated some level of agreement with wanting to gamble on a reservation, and 62 percent strongly disagreed with the idea. Of those who didn’t stop at a reservation, only 6 percent indicated that they strongly agreed with the idea of gambling on a Montana reservation, while 49 percent strongly disagreed.
On the other hand, 69 percent of those who visited a reservation were drawn by a museum and 39 percent said a historic landmark attracted them. More than half of the reservation visitors strongly agreed that they would be interested in learning about tribal culture and history. . . .
If people find reasons to visit reservations, one big barrier keeping them away, said Oschell, is a lack of information.
“People expressed the feeling if they had more information, they might do more and stay more,” she said. “So updating Web sites and updating publications – those are all really, really important if we want to grow tourism on reservations. They won’t venture into unknown territory very easily.”
One thing that might help with that is newly published “Seven Lodges” tourism handbook produced by the Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance (MTTA). The brochure’s title is derived from the seven reservations in Montana, said Michael Sweeney, an at-large member of the alliance’s board. . . .”