A young dancer at an Eastern Cherokee powwow. Photo: Kristy Herron / Visit Cherokee

Robert Jumper: Experts can help Eastern Cherokees bring in more tourists

Tourism is big business for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Robert Jumper, the editor of The Cherokee One Feather, the tribe's newspaper, believes marketing and economic development experts can help bring more dollars to the North Carolina reservation:
With so much riding on the successful promotion of Cherokee and the Boundary, it is critical that we analyze, plan and execute based on sound research and not opinions. It is why tourism development funding in municipalities dependent on that revenue stream is either put it at the top of their budgets, and they create a separate tax that assists in promoting “heads in beds”, commonly called an occupancy tax. Here, we call it a privilege tax.

Our uniqueness as a tourism destination is our culture and our lands. Surely, we have beautiful scenery, great rushing streams, and majestic mountains. And, just like any parent with a child, we say our land is the most beautiful. In our eyes, it is. From a tourist’s prospective, they see that beauty in our land, and all the land of the municipalities around us. It is not unique. We must show our historic and/or cultural uniqueness in a way that appeals to the target audience to compete for tourist dollars. We can say we have the best mountains, fishing, etc., but so do our competitors for the tourist and tourist dollar. Our product is getting older while our target audience is getting younger. How we handle product development in Cherokee will determine the future of tourism and possibly the economic viability of our government.

Our economic engines exist to generate revenue to provide services and for the benefit of our community. Our tribal leadership must find the balance between marketing, product development and governmental community services or the Cherokee community will suffer the loss.

Read More on the Story:
Editorial by Robert Jumper: Armchair marketing (The Cherokee One Feather 8/2)

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