If you see a lot of strangers in town, do not be surprised. It is possible they have taken the advice of the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, which in December ranked Prescott as the “Number Three Destination on the Rise” in the United States – and a terrific place to visit.
Only two communities ranked above Prescott: Wildwood, New Jersey, and Nags Head, North Carolina.
The decision ranking Prescott as number three in the country is based upon the compilation of feedback from travelers throughout the world who evaluate the communities they visit.
Prestigious praise such as that from TripAdvisor often has strong impact upon economic growth within a community.
Margo Christensen, vice president of marketing and public relations for Ponderosa Hotel Management LLC, says TripAdvisor is consumer controlled. “It has very rigid policies and protocols. Its recognition of Prescott is a well-earned and well-deserved honor that’s the result of some incredibly hard work on the part of Prescott business and hospitality industry owners these past few years.”
Christensen explains that in 2007-2009, when Prescott was in the depths of the recession, hotels and restaurants (primary audiences for TripAdvisor) were barely surviving. At that time, Prescott was almost at the bottom of the Arizona tourism and hospitality barrel among non-metropolitan communities.
She credits area business owners, marketing experts and community leaders with kicking solid marketing tools into gear, especially through social media marketing.
Prescott then began attracting attention from travelers nationally and internationally. Those same travelers visited Prescott, spent money, liked what they saw and experienced. They in turn told TripAdvisor. Positive reviews grew.
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What TripAdvisor Said About Prescott
The Trip Advisor website (tripadvisor.com) describes Prescott like this:
“Nestled in the conifer forest of a historic city boasting much in the way of adventure and culture. Golfers flock to the six pristine courses, while outdoor enthusiasts find exciting hiking trails, secluded picnic spots and adventure on the waters of its five lakes.
Discover the history of the Old West in the City’s museums, historic railway and Pioneer Home Cemetery, where ‘Big Nose Kate’ Elder, wife of Doc Holiday, found her final resting place.”
Also mentioned, illustrated with attractive color photographs, is that Prescott has 52 different things to do, something new for every week of the year.
Among those attractions are the 184 restaurants and cafes, 36 hotels and motels, the lakes, trails, museums, library, walking tours, Heritage Zoo, art galleries, antique shops, the World’s Oldest Rodeo, theatre and performing arts venues, four colleges, shopping malls, Whiskey Row, outdoor recreational facilities for various sports – and more.
The site also includes a year-round weather chart.
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What Makes Prescott Appealing as a Destination?
TripAdvisor, which claims it has more than 280 million unique monthly visitors, has seen mentions of Prescott grow from almost nothing five or six years ago to more than 12,000 reviews just recently.
City of Prescott Tourism Director Don Prince says Prescott’s rapid climb to high visibility among travelers is the result of several local factors.
“Visitors are attracted to destinations that are authentic and offer a true ‘sense of place.’ Prescott is fortunate. The historic downtown has hundreds of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The community offers visitors a variety of events to enjoy. For example, the City-sponsored ‘Summer Concert Series’ around the Courthouse Plaza is a good example of free entertainment during the summer months.”
Prince says visitors enjoy the safe and comfortable walkable downtown area, where they can experience authentic history and culture preserved in museums. He says they also appreciate the diverse recreational opportunities with trails, lakes, boating and fishing, softball, tennis, golf and other facilities.
“The positive reviews visitors leave on sites such as TripAdvisor help spread the word about our ‘hidden gem’ of a destination,” Prince said.
Prescott Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Maurer is thrilled with the endorsement. “That fact that this ranking is based on comments made by visitors to Prescott clearly shows the appeal of the ‘Old West’ as well as our scenic beauty, outdoor recreation and unique shopping opportunities. I suspect visitors are surprised to find everything they discover in Prescott. The climate, the history, the diversity of vacation opportunities and certainly the topography are not what people expect to find in Arizona.”
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said he is gratified to see that tourism promotion is having such a positive impact upon growth and economy in the area. “We all benefit when visitors bring ‘new money,’ stay a few days and take home pleasant memories about ‘Everybody’s Hometown.’”
Communities that TripAdvisor ranked below Prescott stretch from coast to coast and border to border.
#4 – Telluride, Colo.
#5- Pompano Beach, Fla.
#6 Traverse City, Mich.
#7 Avalon, Calif.
# 8 Waikoloa, Hawaii
#9 Knoxville, Tenn.
#10 Gulf Shore, Ala.
TripAdvisor is not the first national or international organization to rank Prescott as a desirable community. Recently, Sunset Magazine, National Geographic Adventure magazine, Money magazine, Smart Money/Wall Street Journal and several other highly-circulated publications have praised Prescott as a Top 10 city in which to retire or in which to live and launch a business. QCBN
By Ray Newton
Quad Cities Business News