“Experience” Olympia??

August 14th, 2016 by Ken

The Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) is about to embark on a major promotion campaign to promote Thurston County as a destination for visitors and tourists.   It’s entitled “Experience Olympia.”

A majority of the Lacey City Council – – as well as myself – – think this is the wrong way to promote the entire region, and that concetrating on “Olympia” demeans and denigrates the other two cities which kick in money for the VCB.

Supporters of the “Experience Olympia” campaign say that most people recognize Olympia, because of the state capitol, and that it is the name most looked for when people go on line.   They reason that once people get to Olympia, they will journey to other parts of the tri-cities.  It’s a kind of a “trickle down” effect.

What the VCB doesn’t say is that the second most visited location in Thurston County is the Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) in Lacey and run by the City of Lacey.   This sports complex draws thousands of sports fans to its fields every year.   Every weekend of the year – – except Christmas – – is booked by some sporting event. And, the RAC has 26 additional acres on which to expand. Lacey is rapidly becoming the Sports Capitol of the South Sound.

And, when those sports fans and participants come to the RAC they stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants.   And while they are here, some of those family members shop at Shipwreck Beads, the largest collection of beads in the state – – if not in the country.   Some of them journey to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge to experience nature and view the wildlife.  The more adventuresome head to the Red Wing Casino.   Lacey generates its own tourists and its own visitors.

When I travel in the state I tell people I’m from Lacey.   If I travel out-of-state I tell people I’m from Olympia.  In California they often say – – “that’s where the beer was made.”   And, if I travel out of country, I tell people I’m from Seattle.   To them, Washington means Washington DC.  What we tell people about our home depends on where we are and who we’re with.

If Olympia is such a good name why didn’t South Puget Sound Community College call itself Olympia College?   Why didn’t Black Hills hospital call itself Olympia hospital?   If Olympia is such a great name and a great draw – – why did the Olympia Chamber of Commerce change its name to Thurston County Chamber of Commerce?


Posted in Business, Local Politics, The Real News

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