5 questions ... for Searle Swedlund
He is executive director of Jamestown Tourism.
1. What interested you in working in the field of tourism?
I graduated and worked in alumni relations for my alma mater - Concordia College. During those years everyone was building websites and creating online payment systems. The work was very similar to tourism — tell your story, engage with that audience and trust that they will visit.
2. What education did you get that helped prepare you for your career?
I had a college professor who used to say, “What is the inner, deeper, darker, secret meaning?” It was his way of pushing us to think critically of a problem and write critically about that issue. I haven’t had to write any English papers since I graduated, but I think of that phrase often. In this work there is no right and wrong. Instead you select a solution that will create the best possible outcome.
3. Who was a mentor to you in your career and why?
When I was 4 years old, my grandfather picked up a piece of trash on the ground. I asked him if it was his. It wasn’t. Then I asked him why he picked it up if it didn’t belong to him. He responded, “In this life, we always want to leave something a little better than we found it.” Everyday I hope the work we do makes Jamestown just a little better than it was before.
4. What should Jamestown residents know about the work that Jamestown Tourism is doing?
The impact of this industry to a local community is significant. Take note when you are driving down 1st Avenue. From Memorial Day to Labor Day it is a rare that you won’t see an out-of-town license plate. Tourism brings new spending and tax dollars to the community without the expense of new roads or schools. We help build amenities like biking trails and kayak launches that are good for visitors and good for locals. But the impact is only possible through the work of many.
5. How has the tourism industry changed since you began working in Jamestown?
The marketing is always growing and changing. It seems like there are new social media sites. I’m amazed at the new opportunities to display your messages in print or on the side of just about anything that moves. There are so many ways for people to learn about Jamestown.