Promoting tourism in Jamestown has a bigger impact than just bringing more visitors to the community, according to Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism.
"What is good for tourism is good for the community," he said. "I think that as our organization has evolved, that thought has been at the forefront."
Jamestown Tourism provides the promotion and support to the individual attractions in the community to attract visitors to Jamestown. It is financed by portions of the taxes collected at restaurants and motels in Jamestown. That includes operating the Jamestown Events Calendar and other websites, managing social media efforts and working with the individual groups that operate tourist sites in Jamestown.
"We're here to support the people who do the work," he said, referring to organizations such as the National Buffalo Museum, Stutsman County Museum, Fort Seward and others.
Swedlund's position also involves shaping the way potential visitors and the local residents view our community, said Matt Woods, president of Jamestown Tourism.
"His job is bringing vision and action to how we do tourism in Jamestown," Woods said. "How we think about ourselves in Jamestown."
That job has evolved over the years, Swedlund said, and is about to undergo what could be its biggest change ever.
"The coronavirus," he said. "We are all wondering what is next.
"It could bring some tough times to tourism operations at least in the short term," Swedlund said. "No question that all our businesses will go through tough times until a new version of normal develops. Probably different travel plans, hard to know how it will pan out."
This year's tourism season includes big plans although what summer operations will actually look like is still unknown.
"The Frontier Village will be open for a year of evaluation," Swedlund said. "It will be a great opportunity to learn."
Jamestown Tourism will operate Frontier Village for the summer while further plans for the tourist attraction are developed.
Also in the plans for the summer of 2020 are a new escape room puzzle and citizenship display at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, new displays at the National Buffalo Museum and a "Glamping" or camping experience at the Fort Seward Historic Site.
"He works hand in glove with the organizations that operate these attractions," Woods said, referring to Swedlund. "Helping those organizations adapt to changes in how people travel and what they want for experiences."
Along with tourist sites, Jamestown Tourism supports events that attract people to Jamestown including the James River Rodeo, events at the speedway and others.
"We support people who want to grow things they feel passionate about," Swedlund said. "When we build a better experience for our visitors, we attract more people to Jamestown."
That process also develops the things that are the best of Jamestown, Woods said. Swedlund is key to that.
"He does a great job of engaging all parts of the community," Woods said. "He builds on the idea of community and develops what we have."
Swedlund was recognized for his efforts in the promotion of the area with the Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation in 2019. The award was for the development of the Talking Trails project. The project consists of signs that are displayed around Jamestown with a phone number and access code so people could call and get more information about the site.
Swedlund credits the project with presenting the story of Jamestown in a cost-effective manner using modern technology. It is one of the projects Swedlund has developed over his time as director of Jamestown Tourism.
"I don't take credit for the things we accomplish," he said. "I love working with them (tourism sites in Jamestown) to grow the experience of visiting Jamestown."