A collaborative effort is underway to draw attention to Topeka’s treasures. The Topeka Zoo, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Department, Ramada West and Visit Topeka are teaming up to get the word about Topeka out in surrounding communities.
The plan is simple. Use existing attractions at a discounted rate to a specific community as an incentive for members of that community to make the trip. Organizers hope that through cultivating relationships with other Kansas communities, the Capital City will increase its prominence as a destination. “We want more people to experience the Capital City,” said Brett Oetting, Senior Vice President and Director of Operations for Parish Hotels.
This Saturday, July 27th, is Lawrence Day at the Topeka Zoo. Lawrence residents who show proof of residency will get half-price admission. Other area Gage Park attractions including the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Gage Park Mini Train, Carousel in the Park and Blaisdell Family Aquatic Center will also be offering the same promotion. “We are starting just down the road with our neighbors in Lawrence,” Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said. “We are hoping that this becomes a program offered to communities all over the state over the next few years and that as the program grows so does the list of community assets used to attract people here.”
“We want people to come, have a great time, experience some of the great things Topeka has to offer and then we want them to tell their neighbors about it,” said Joanne Morrell, Executive Director of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.
Organizers say this is about more than simply creating awareness. A half-price ticket might be what gets a person here. Once they are here, organizers want them to do something else. Whether it is a tank of gas, a meal at a local restaurant, or shopping, organizers believe the promotion help Topeka reap more sales tax benefits from its attractions.
“The more people coming to our community the better off our community is,” said Randy Luebbe, Recreation Director for Shawnee County Parks and Recreation. “We think we can get more people here. We know that it will be our community assets and people that will make those guests want to return.”
Jeff Alderman, Director of Sales for Visit Topeka says, “It’s kind of like a try it before you buy it type of approach. We are betting on the fact that people who would otherwise take their time and entertainment dollars to other markets, will have such positive experiences that they will turn into repeat visitors.”
“Gage Park is a truly unique setting having city, county and non-profit interests all in one park,” said Kate Larison, Executive Director of Friends of the Zoo. “This collaboration is a great opportunity to show what partnering for the best interest of the community looks like. We are all thrilled to be a part of this.”