Page chamber seeks new ways to attract tourists amid downturn

Boaters enjoy Lake Powell on July 24.

Several representatives from Page attended the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism earlier this month, with the aim of getting fresh ideas for boosting tourism in the region and promoting Page as a travel destination.

Among those who traveled to the conference – held in Scottsdale from July 13-15 – was Judy Franz, executive director of the Page-Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce.  

“I always like to go down to the conference and get a pulse of what’s really going on within the state,” Franz said. “A lot of this year’s conference was based on, we’ve come out of COVID, so where are we going now, how do we go forward?” 

She said several great ideas came out of the conference, including a seminar on how to pitch a particular destination to potential visitors.

“What’s your pitch? How are you marketing Page? How are we getting the word out? Are we doing the right thing, or are we doing the wrong thing? I always try to go for ideas,” Franz said. “You can never learn too much. I want to learn from the people that have gone through it.”

She said she also thought Page could learn from Sedona, where companies that offer off-highway vehicle tours have banded together to form an off-road organization.  

“They’ve all banded together, and they’re all working together on their marketing, their branding, safety issues. I thought we need to be doing more of that up here, getting together as groups,” Franz said. “I want to see Page represented more and be out there more in unity, where we’re all working together as a small town.” 

Franz said that in addition to getting new ideas at the conference, she also took the opportunity to promote Page to media outlets and other organizations.

“Nobody ever sees past Flagstaff. Page isn’t here. So, we have tried since 2020, since COVID hit, to really get out and market and tell people we’re alive and well, we have a lot to offer here,” she said.

“Of course, I had a lot of questions about the lake. As I told them, everybody is still operating with their businesses, it’s going strong. That’s my other goal, is to get the word out when I’m down there and network with people that I know down there.”

This is particularly important, she said, because she’s been hearing from a lot of locals that business has slowed down in the past several weeks. Traffic through the Page Visitor’s Center has also slowed down, from 2,700 people in May to 1,376 in June. She estimated that about 75% of those visitors were international and only about 25% domestic.

“That tells me domestics are going, ‘Hmmm, we really need to look and think about things,’” she said. “I think it’s fuel costs, I think it’s supply chain costs. Things are more expensive.”

Even so, Franz hopes the downturn is only temporary – July 2021 was also a tough month for Page tourism, but it was followed by a bit of a recovery in August and September.

In the meantime, Franz is urging businesses that offer promotions and discounts to send the information to the chamber, so they can get the word out in their newsletter, on the internet and at the Hub. 

“Do promotions. It might cut a little into yours, but it’s maybe going to get somebody in your front door. Another thing that the businesses could do is offer discounts for the locals. It gets them in the door,” she said, adding that another resource for struggling businesses is the Small Business Development Center at Coconino Community College.

Meanwhile, the city is also working to attract more events to the area for the benefit of both locals and tourists.

“What we want to do is get more events here, more events with things to do that would draw people here,” Franz said.

One new event, tentatively scheduled to be held in John C. Page Memorial Park on Oct. 15, is a chili cook-off.

“Tourists will still be here in October, but it’s also for the town. I want to get the town out, I want to challenge the restaurants, I want to challenge individuals. Anyone can come and anyone can participate,” Franz said.

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