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During shutdown, tourism leaders promote state parks

Tourism leaders promote open Wyoming state parks

Oct 11, 2013 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The partial government shutdown has provided an opportunity for state and local tourism groups to showcase Wyoming's lesser-known parks and attractions and convince travelers that the state has more to offer than Yellowstone and Devil's Tower.

"It's really an opportunity for Wyoming to be seen in a new light," Darren Rudloff, president of Visit Cheyenne, the local convention and visitors bureau, said.

The Wyoming Office of Tourism has launched a campaign via the Internet and social media to advise tourists of alternative places to visit in the state.

The office is also encouraging tourists to stop at local visitor centers to get suggestions on activities or sites that are still open.

"First and foremost, we want to make sure any displaced visitor knows that there are plenty of activities in and around the state," Wyoming Office of Tourism Director Diane Shober said. "People are coming into our visitor centers who are angry, frustrated and heartbroken.

"The only thing we can do is help them find other interesting things to do while on vacation."

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and all other monuments and historic sites have been closed since Oct. 1 due to the federal budget impasse.

Rudloff said Visit Cheyenne also is using social media to reach out to the tourists and is working with some of the tour bus companies that travel through Cheyenne.

"We've been busy sending out word about all the options in Laramie County and beyond," he said." We have been promoting Curt Gowdy State Park, Vedauwoo Recreation Area and all of our indoor activities, like the State Museum or the State Capitol."

The Albany County Tourism Board has similarly been touting alternative options in the southeast part of the state.

The group has posted a series of ads and photos on Facebook and Twitter with slogans such as "Vedauwoo: From the Arapaho meaning, 'still open during government shutdown,'" and "The Tetons may be closed, but the Snowy Range is wide, wide open."

Domenic Bravo, an administrator with the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, said the state also wants to reassure visitors that state parks are not affected by the shutdown.

"There is probably some misconception in the public between the difference between state parks, national parks and local parks," he said. "We want to make sure the visiting public is clear that we are open and ready for business."

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