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Tourism week begins

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Worthington Chamber of Commerce Executive Assistant and Worthington Convention and Visitors Bureau Coordinator Ashley Goettig holds a copy of the visitors guide at the chamber office in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is gearing up for a new tourism season, just in time for National Tourism Week, which begins today.

The Bureau's newest visitors' guide to Worthington will be in the Daily Globe Monday, and will feature local photos as well as information about area festivals, parks, shopping opportunities, recreational activities and other entertainment options.

"This year especially with the pictures, it really showcases Worthington and what it has to offer," said Ashley Goettig, administrative assistant and Convention & Visitors Bureau coordinator, who prepared the guide. "Look at the good things about Worthington and realize we have a lot of things we can take advantage of."

Goettig started working on the guide in December and finished in February. Instead of simply updating information from the previous guide, she also made an effort to change the style and layout of the booklet, altering its structure and its table of contents.

"It has everything about Worthington," said Bryan Ahlers, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express, who often hands out guides to people staying at the hotel. "It's even useful for people who live in town, and has calendar events and things you might not know about."

The rising gas prices may encourage people to take more local and regional vacations, suggested Roxann Polzine, co-chair of the Marketing/Visitors Committee of the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The guide itself could be more local than ever before -- most of its photos were taken locally by local people and submitted to the Capture Worthington Photo Contest.

"I'm really excited about how it turned out this year," Goettig said.

Because of the Minnesota 60 detour, the rest area south of Worthington will be closed. Instead, the Travel Information Center will be located in a temporary building on the Minnesota border.

The center will be staffed by Dennis Reed of Round Lake and Polzine, and is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The center's open house will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 27.

The bureau is also planning a publicity blitz promoting the Worthington area in publications, websites and soon, even on television, via commercials. The commercials should begin airing around Memorial Day in eastern South Dakota.

Nobles County generated more than $24 million in gross sales from hospitality and leisure in 2009, according to information from the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. That same year, $1.6 million was brought to Nobles County alone from state sales taxes in hospitality and leisure industries.

"There's a lot of people (tourism) touches," Polzine said. "Tourism is good for the area."