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City planners work to pump up Missoula tourism

Published On: Jun 12 2013 10:36:36 PM MDT

Tourists won't be able to resist Missoula as the city moves into the future. That's what tourism leaders hope will happen with a new program aimed at modernizing the city's tourism image.

Officials think making city websites and social media pages more informative and easier to use will bring in more visitors. 

They want to use more online maps and GPS features, reach mobile phones with visitor apps and bar-coding, and even replace outdated signs with new ones that will get people to popular attractions more easily.

We talked to John Bosio, a partner at the company hired to help with the new tourism plan. Bosio tells us it’s all about making Missoula a user-friendly town that’s navigable for tourists and locals, and also get tourists to stay in Missoula longer, thus spending more money.

“If you can increase overnight stays by increasing awareness of those destinations and things to do, that's the best.  You can certainly see locals who will discover the little jewels that are available to them,” said Bosio. 

“Maybe they've been here for 20 years and they didn't know where something was or they didn't know how close by or easy it was to get to, and that's really not that uncommon,” he said.

At a public forum held Wednesday, dozens of residents and city leaders shared their thoughts on Missoula’s tourism future.

NBC Montana was there when some council members urged planners to include Salish writing on signs to highlight the heritage and relationship between the City of Missoula and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“It's writing that I can't even say or spell -- it’s like, ‘what the Sam Hill is that?’” said council member Dick Haines.  “But it's part of our culture and I think we should display it.”

Planners tell NBC Montana they are going to review public input and come up with a final plan, hopefully by the end of the year.

For more information about the city’s tourism plan click here.