February 27, 2009

Museums yes, casinos no

Message to tribes:  Museums work

Survey indicates that travelers are drawn to history, not lure of jackpotsGambling doesn't draw tourists to Montana's Indian Country, but museums do.

That's one of the conclusions that came out of a survey conducted by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.
Specifically:Only 18 percent of people who visited a reservation indicated some level of agreement with wanting to gamble on a reservation, and 62 percent strongly disagreed with the idea. Of those who didn't stop at a reservation, only 6 percent indicated that they strongly agreed with the idea of gambling on a Montana reservation, while 49 percent strongly disagreed.

On the other hand, 69 percent of those who visited a reservation were drawn by a museum and 39 percent said a historic landmark attracted them. More than half of the reservation visitors strongly agreed that they would be interested in learning about tribal culture and history.
Comment:  This is another reason for gaming tribes to invest in cultural projects. Namely, because it makes good business sense from a tourism standpoint.

This is especially true since the economic downturn is producing flat or declining casino revenues. For all the tribes know, these revenues may have reached their peak.

The economic uncertainty is why diversification is a good idea. If I were a tribe, I'd fund museums and other cultural projects to take advantage of the perennial tourist market.

I'd also create a business "incubator" and provide seed money for movies, plays, comic books, videos and graphics, and other artistic projects. How many people became interested in Indians because of Dances with Wolves, Tony Hillerman's mysteries, or old comic books? A lot, I'd guess.

For more on the subject, see Casinos Promote Culture and The Facts About Indian Gaming.

Below:  The Autry Museum in Los Angeles.

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