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Welcome to the RMI regional news page. If you were not contacted via e-mail about the latest newsletter being posted and would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact [email protected].

Real America News
Volume E2, Issue 2, Summer 2006


In this issue:

International Visitation Statistics Show Positive Growth for U.S. and RMI Region

Two recent studies have reinforced the fact that international tourism to the U.S. and in the RMI region is growing.

According to research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLC, international travelers to the U.S. increased by 6.7 percent in 2005.

Excluding travelers from Canada and Mexico, in 2004 and 2005 international travelers to the U.S. increased by 20.3%, the largest two-year increase since 1996, but below 2000 and 2001 levels, the firm found.

Following 10 quarter-over-prior-year quarter declines beginning the first quarter of 2001, international travelers increased during the fourth quarter of 2003 and have achieved robust gains since then.

A number of factors, including lingering travel concerns, a global economic slowdown and more strict visa and immigration procedures contributed to the declines in international travelers.

Some of the factors contributing to the recovery in international travelers include:

Global economic performance has accelerated.
The dollar remains weak relative to most currencies and is forecast to continue modest declines through 2007, which will encourage increases in international travelers.
The Department of Commerce has initiated marketing activities to increase awareness and develop a positive image of the United States as a tourism destination. The U.S. promotional campaigns were started in the United Kingdom and Japan in December 2004 and May 2005, respectively.
As of 2005 international travelers to the U.S. - excluding Mexico and Canada - had reached 22 million, representing 83.5 percent of the peak of 26 million reached in 2000.

RMI research backs up those statistics as our region has seen a 9% growth of product available in 2005-2006.

Each year, the RMI European offices research the amount of product (accommodations, group tours, motorcoach, fly-drives) available both in printed catalogs and online for all of the tour operators in our target markets of the UK, Germany, France, Benelux countries and Italy.

This year, each market and state had growth of product, reaffirming RMI’s position that international tourism continues to grow and there is no better time for you to get involved.

Hats off to the RMI state marketing representatives – Pam Gosink, Montana, Karen Ballard, Idaho, Rita Greene Bellardo, Wyoming and Maureen Droz, South Dakota, for their efforts to promote international tourism to this region. And, thanks also to the RMI offices for their commitment to the region and research completed this year.

Here are the results for 2006:

(Results measure the number of overnights available in the RMI region, not the actual number of room nights booked, which is very hard to determine. By measuring the growth (or decline) of product in each market and state we have a measurement tool for determining the success of our efforts.


Idaho - up 5%, from 247,373 overnights to 259,107
Wyoming - up 10%, from 1,162,597 to 1,277,988
South Dakota - up 18%, from 302,068 to 355,551
Montana - up 6%, from 563,736 to 595,089

UK - up 8%, from 958,823 overnights to 1,038,715
France - up 1%, from 377,482 to 383,115
Benelux - up 40%, from 178,672 to 250,442
Germany - up 16%, from 322,522 to 372,952
Italy - up 1%, from 438,245 to 442,511


Nuts & Bolts 2006, Germany

Soccer-fever does not exceed travel-fever while Germany is hosting the Soccer – World-Cup June 2006

With the Soccer World Championship which took place in Germany from June 9th until July 9th 2006, with the country welcoming “friends from all over the world”, it is time for RMI-Germany to take a look behind the dry numbers and tell you a bit more about current market trends.

Germans are known for their enthusiasm when it comes to soccer: “Volkssport No. 1” is being taken very seriously and is often more discussed than any other issue. But we are also known as travel-champions, being the largest tourist generating and spending market, with a potential traveling population of roughly 63 million. Would one interfere with the other? Traveling versus soccer-fever? Would all Germans turn into “Couch potatoes” during the World-Cup and not leave the German country? That’s what many tour operators feared.

Worries did not come out of the blue: With visiting fans from worldwide nations and games being played in 12 different cities all over Germany, the Soccer-World Cup was a huge multicultural event. Who would not want to participate, being there anyway and so close to everything? June is generally not very well booked, since children in Germany go to school until the middle of July. In addition thousands of working people were not allowed to take any vacation days during the Championship. But as the weather until mid-June stayed rainy and cold and the hype around the leather ball got bigger, obviously many people longed for a time out from both and booking numbers went up. As the World cup drew near, fears were proven to be causeless.

New short term studies support this: A large number of people questioned in a survey stated that the World Championship rather stimulated their whish to travel. For more than 80% the Championship was no reason to abstain from their annual summer vacation – the only concession about half of them made was to book their holiday for the time before or after the World Cup.

Tour operators did their share to increase the travel-fever: special offers for early bookings, generally cheap flight and hotel rates, free add-on nights or all-inclusive packages were only some of the tricks that helped to succeed and draw people to the agency counters. Moreover some hotels and destinations even promoted “Soccer-free-zones” for frustrated women and other soccer uninterested people. A new target group was suddenly born. With the USA being so far away from the

Championship hype, tour operators like Explorer and TUI took the chance and offered cheap rates as well as Lady-, Wellness- and Outdoor-specials to the RMI- Region.

Tour operators are now looking forward to all the people booking, who had been waiting for the Championship to finish. Experts say that not only last minute offers will be in favor, but also bookings for September and October. The trend for later or last minute bookings is continuing. In summary a leveled outcome is expected: with less people booking during the time of the World Championship, July and August were really busy for travel agencies and tour operators.

The overall mood in Germany during the World Cup exceeded all forecasts: parties on the street during and after every game, millions of international fans who flocked to Germany and complimented the smooth organization, the hearty hospitality as well as an excellent infrastructure and unforgettable “Fan-Miles”, making Germany a world champion even though we did not make it in first or second place, but came in third. Congratulations to France and Italy. Germans highly approved of how our country presented itself and welcomed a new honoring of the German flag and the German colors black red and gold - all without a hidden political agenda, but merely a pride of being a hospitable and friendly people. Fans from all over the world were also fascinated and thrilled about how enthusiastically the “serious” Germans could party.

General trends for 2006/2007

During 2005 the number of Germans going on holiday trips 5 days or longer, increased significantly compared to the year before from 53% up to 64%. It seems there is an end to every crisis: trend scouts more than ever attest tourists a distinct short time memory when it comes to natural disaster as well as terror attacks.

For travel to the USA this meant a very nice upturn: 2.3% of all German travelers went to the US in 2005, compared to 1.7% in 2004. In numbers meant an increase from 1.32 million German visitors in 2004 up to 1,41 million in 2005. For 2006 numbers look already very promising: By April 2006 Germany noted a 1% plus. This is a fantastic result, taking in consideration that Switzerland and Germany, besides Spain are the only European markets able to report a plus in the ongoing year.

Long haul travel is favored more again by German vacationers – surveys show that winners of that trend are the Asian regions, but also the USA. In connection with that fact it is not surprising, that the duration of holiday trips is increasing again with an average of 13.3 days in 2005 compared to 12,8 % the year before. After several years of steady decrease, going down from over 18 days in the 1980s, this is a positive sign for the tourism industry.

A new image study also found out that the USA is No. 1 dream destinations for Germans as far as long haul travel is concerned – making it the most attractive overseas vacation spot for Germans in the future. An excellent vantage point for more travel into the RMI regions! Especially if we take in general trends in the German society that gain in importance: the gap between the ages is growing and there is a very low birth rate. New promising target groups appear on the horizon:

For one, there are more and more singles and childless couples. Both of these groups spend more time and money on their vacation than the average population. Therefore they tend to go on longer trips and rather take long haul destinations into consideration. A big variety of restaurants, bars and party locations, but also outdoor activities and intact nature are judged as very important by these groups when it comes to choosing their potential holiday spot.

On the other hand more active, healthy and comparatively wealthy elderly people live in our society. Senior citizens are the driving force for the German holiday market. The travel propensity of the age group 60 – 69 lies at 75 %. As the average life expectancy is rising constantly, currently more retired people than ever before in history, have the possibility, the eagerness and the financial ability to travel. Their experience and their general openness towards other cultures, which they have gained during many vacations in their life until then, makes it easier for them to decide for long haul travel. Retired people today differ a lot from former generations. They bring many advantages in regards to tourism marketing: Being extremely flexible, they mostly travel in off-season and - just like singles and childless couples - they stay longer. Elderly people, or the 50+ target group, as they sometimes are called in Germany, wish for quality in service and lodging, they long for beautiful surroundings and intact nature, they want security and true hospitality. All of this, the RMI-Region has to offer in great variety. What a promising perspective! RMI- Germany is therefore considering all the options to reach out to these new target groups and to guide them to the stunning sights Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota have to offer.

The general mood in Germany is helping a lot: The new chancellor Angela Merkel is considered trustworthy and a growing number of people are sympathizing with her. Women seem to be a big topic overall – interesting also for RMI: a recent representative poll found out that in Germany mainly the women in a relationship decide on the holiday destination. In addition, a growing percentage of the German population, more than 60 %, is using the Internet. Surprisingly a rising number of the above mentioned 50+ generation is going online as well - in the group between 60 and 69 years of age already 54 %.

Overall we are able to report a very positive and optimistic mood in German society. This also accounts for the tourism industry: Tour operators judge the oncoming seasons 2006/2007 as very promising and look forward to a renewed “Wanderlust”. 67,9 % of Germans plan to book a holiday trip in 2006, letting this number climb significantly compared to last year (45,2 %). At the same time the number of people who definitely want to stay home decreased from 29,6 % to 22,1 %.


News from the States:


A Cheyenne Getaway
With its very name evoking the Old West, Cheyenne sits at the crossroads of I-25 and I-80, less than two hours north of Denver. Its historic riches are well worth a weekend getaway. more...

Set in Wyoming, and shot on location at the Eaton Ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming, "Flicka" is a contemporary motion picture adaptation of Mary O'Hara's beloved novel "My Friend Flicka". The filmmakers have re-engineered the story of a child coming into adulthood, changing the main character from a boy to a girl. Sixteen-year-old Katy McLaughlin (Alison Lohman) dreams of fulfilling her family legacy by working on her father's ranch in modern-day Wyoming. Katy finds a wild mustang, which she names Flicka, and Katy sets out to break through to Flicka and make her a riding horse. But Flicka and Katy are more alike than she could have imagined. Like Katy, Flicka has a disdain for authority and is not about to give up her freedom without a fight. Country singer Tim McGraw plays Katy’s father. Click on the web site at to view a trailer from the film, which is scheduled for release in the US during October 2006.


South Dakota

Escape to relaxation
An abundance of natural hot springs is what attracted travelers to this area...and still does. Full Story

Legendary legacy lives on
The new Deadwood Façade invites visitors to return to the Deadwood of 125 years ago with reconstructed buildings and historical actors. Full Story



Helena owes its existence to the gold discoveries in Last Chance Gulch by four prospectors in the summer of 1864. The discovery of placer gold, quartz gold and silver, as well as lead, created an overnight boom town.

The downtown area of the capital city is situated in a steep gulch with parts of the city perched on surrounding hillsides. This picturesque setting opens up into a wide valley to the north. On the upper eastside sits Montana's State Capitol. Helena's glorious past can be seen in the spectacular 19th-century mansions, historic Last Chance Gulch businesses, and restored pioneer dwellings.

Spotlight: Arts and Culture
Montana has always been a place of inspiration and beauty. Plan on taking in the diverse offerings of Montana's artistic heritage and see how it's artists interpret the inspiration of Big Sky Country. Arts & Culture

WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Officials at Glacier National Park remind park visitors that the park is open year-round and that most concessions, lodging and camping facilities will remain open well past Labor Day for the autumn season.

After Labor Day, services and facilities slowly start closing for the winter; however, the following is a list of ongoing park services and projected closing dates.




Circling Raven No. 1 Among Native-American Resort Golf Courses

WORLEY, Idaho (July 26, 2006) —The Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s popular Circling Raven Golf Course has been named No. 1 among the nation’s casino resort golf courses. The designation has been made in Native American Casino magazine’s August issue as it unveiled its “Top 10” tribal golf course list for 2006. In all, there are 54 tribal golf developments in the U.S., almost all of them part of a resort property.

“This list isn’t just the best of Indian Country, it includes many of the nation’s top-rated courses in any category,” said Circling Raven Golf Course Director David Christenson. “Being at the top is a staggering accomplishment for architect Gene Bates, the tribe and all of us here at Circling Raven.”

According to editor Melanie Dellas, the formula for rating courses is based on the continuing flow of honors, accolades and positive reviews in various media.

“This was a pretty easy decision for us," said Dellas. "The course is gorgeous, it’s very challenging, it’s beautifully maintained and it’s constantly out there in positive media reviews. We’re impressed with Circling Raven’s natural beauty and its attention to the environment.”

Circling Raven was listed a “Top 10 Best New Courses” by Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine following its opening in August 2003. The course has garnered further “best of” accolades from Zagat, among other surveys and, in December 2005, was listed by Fairways and Greens magazine as No. 7 among the “Top 101 Golf Experiences in the West. That ranking placed Circling Raven shoulder-to-shoulder with Oregon’s Bandon Dunes and the famed Pebble Beach. It has also earned a listing with Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary System.

Circling Raven, a member of the Idaho Golf Trail, is also currently rated as the top public golf course in the state.

Idaho's (South Dakota and Montana) Vacation Costs Among Nation's Lowest

BOISE - The bad news this year is that vacation costs are up. The good news for residents and Idaho's tourism industry is that the Gem State in on AAA's top ten bargain list for places to vacation this summer.

The numbers, reflected in AAA's Annual Vacation Costs survey, show that a family of four can expect to pay $261 a day, on average, for food and lodging in 2006. That's up $14, or about 5.4 percent from a year ago.

Idaho's price tag comes in significantly lower - at $215 - to earn the number ten spot this year, among all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

"For a state that has so much to see and do, this is good news," said AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson. "It means that discriminating buyers can have a great vacation and pay less while they're at it."

Broken down, the $261 national average price tag in the AAA survey shows that a family of two adults and two children can expect to pay an average $141 a night for lodgings and $120 for meals. Idaho's hotel costs average $109 and the meals average $106.
Rising travel demand has pushed hotel rates higher in many parts of the country. Rising energy costs are partly responsible for increases in both food and lodging, according to AAA.

AAA has been tracking vacation costs since 1950 when the average costs of meals and lodging was $13 a day. Meal and lodging costs are based on prices from more than 55,000 lodgings and restaurants listed in AAA's TourBook® guides, with a circulation of more than 24 million.

The least expensive vacations in the United States this year are in North Dakota and Nebraska, $191; Kansas, $193; Iowa, $196; and Oklahoma, $200.

The most expensive states/destinations for vacationers are: Hawaii, $559; District of Columbia, $518; Nevada, $348; Rhode Island, $329; and New York, $329.

AAA Idaho says higher gasoline prices and increases in vacation costs will keep some vacationers closer to home. "Idaho is a draw for its own residents and tourists from neighboring states who are looking for scenic backdrops, classic whitewater adventures and outdoor fun at bargain prices," Carlson said.

The travel organization says higher prices may give some travelers pause this year, but it will not stop them from hitting the road. They may opt for shorter vacations, the kind Carlson calls "trips on a tank," or within the driving distance of a single tank of gas.
"There are plenty of 'trips on a tank' in the region – golf getaways, float trips, visits to wineries and more," according to Carlson. Idaho's current average price for self-serve regular gasoline is $2.90.
AAA offers these tips for saving money on a vacation:

• To help prevent breakdowns and to maximize fuel economy, have your car checked by a reputable technician.
• Consider lodging in outlying areas, away from tourist and business destinations.
• Book accommodations in advance to ensure availability, selection and the best rates.
• Use discounts, such as those offered to AAA members, to save on lodging, restaurant and entertainment costs.
• Cut food costs by packing your own meals and snacks. If you dine out, eat the largest meal at lunch to take advantage of lower menu costs.

AAA TourBooks® include travel destination information by region, as well as lodging and restaurant information.
Motorists may also estimate current fuel costs for their specific trip using the Fuel Cost Calculator. Motorists insert the starting point and destination of their trip, along with the make model of their vehicle to determine what they can expect to pay for fuel.

• South Dakota - $202.49 (46)
• Idaho - $215.38 (41)
• Montana - $215.86 (39)
• Wyoming - $251.75 (23)

Idaho Travel Guide Recognized as Best in U.S.

The Travel Industry Association of America has named Idaho Commerce & Labor’s Division of Tourism travel guide as the best in the nation.

The recognition from the Washington, D.C.-based trade organization, which sets the standards for the travel industry, was one of the National Council Awards made at the annual convention of Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations in Minneapolis this month.

“This recognition from travel industry leaders across our country reinforces the importance of promoting an industry that is such a major factor in Idaho’s economy,” Gov. Jim Risch said. “It is also a wonderful recognition of a high-quality product that our state employees produce. On behalf of the citizens, I thank the Division of Tourism employees for their outstanding work.”

A recent analysis determined that tourism generates over $2 billion of Idaho’s annual gross state product, drawing more than 22 million visitors a year to attractions and businesses that provide 47,000 direct jobs and 22,000 indirect jobs.

The Idaho Travel Guide provides information on all that there is to see and do in Idaho through text, photographs, maps and other graphics. Developing the annual edition of the guide in conjunction with a Boise marketing firm takes six months.

“This is such an honor because it comes from our peers, who are much more discriminating than any panel of other judges would be,” said state Tourism Administrator Carl Wilgus, last year’s recipient of the national organization’s Tourism Director of the Year award.

A complete copy of the 2006 Idaho Travel Guide is at


News from the Region:

Minneapolis/St. Paul


USA Today (July 7) touted the Minneapolis Arts Explosion with an article titled “Minneapolis gets the ‘starchitect’ treatment,” describing the new Jean Nouvel-designed Guthrie Theater as “a curvaceous blue-steel beauty on the banks of the Mississippi River.” The three-theater complex joins the previously unveiled Walker Art Center by Herzog & de Muron, Cesar Pelli’s stunning new Minneapolis Central Library, and the Michael Graves-designed expansions of the Children’s Theatre Company and Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Read More:



Breathe Easy – Colorado Becomes 13th Smoke-Free State
On July 1, 2006, the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act – the statewide smoke-free law – officially went in to effect, requiring most public indoor areas including bars, restaurants and most work places and entryways leading into buildings to become smoke free. For details go to

RTD Public Bus Passes Now Available at Downtown Visitor Information Center
Visitors can enjoy the convenience of purchasing a RTD Local or Regular public bus day-pass at the Downtown Visitor Information Center
Read More:
(includes all RTD service except Skyride direct to Denver International Airport). The $4.50 Local pass or $10 Regular pass is good during one calendar day for unlimited rides. Use this pass to access Cherry Creek Shopping Center, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and other area attractions. The visitor center can assist with bus routing. Visit for more information.

Visit for a detailed calendar of events



The Davenport Hotel and Tower – The world-renowned Davenport Hotel will soon be twice as nice. The hotel is building a new 21-story tower, making it The Davenport Hotel and Tower when it is completed in time for the 2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.
More info:

Ski and a Martini – With five ski resort in the region … and as many Martini bars … Spokane has become the destination to ski and then enjoy and Martini. Each of the ski resorts in the region offers a unique opportunity, from family fun to competition-level training, but they all share incredible views of the beautiful landscape that makes up the Inland Northwest.
More info:


Salt Lake City

Four world class resorts, each sporting at least 500 inches of the Greatest Snow on Earth™—all waiting just minutes from our international airport. We know, it can all seem a tad unnatural. But trust us. You’ll adjust.

SUPER PASS - With the Super Pass, you can ski a different Ski Salt Lake resort every day for the best price possible.
For details:



© 2006 Rocky Mountain International