Promoting area tourism involves everyone – not just the officials

In today’s issue of The Leader-Union, we proudly include our annual Fayette County Area Tourism Guide. Each year, we present that guide – with updated and new material – in hopes that it will serve as a one-of-a-kind resource about things to do and see in Vandalia and all of Fayette County.
Obviously, the big draw that brings outsiders to the area is Abraham Lincoln. It was here that he cut his teeth in the rough and tumble world of early Illinois politics, launching his legislative career as a state representative from Sangamon County. And it was here that he first articulated the political platform that would eventually launch him into the presidency.
But there’s more than Lincoln driving tourism in Vandalia.
History buffs can find plenty of fascinating reasons to poke around Vandalia. We have, of course, the beautifully restored Vandalia Statehouse. Many decisions that shaped the emerging state of Illinois were made by legislators and other important figures in that building. While here, visitors can also see several other historical attractions: the Old State Cemetery, the Fayette County Museum, Artworks Gallery, Lincoln Park, the Little Brick House, the National Road Interpretive Center and the Madonna of the Trail statue.
And once those visitors have satisfied their appetite for things historical, Vandalia’s merchants have an opportunity to meet their other needs – such as food, fuel, recreation and souvenirs.
In those categories, every resident of the area has the opportunity to become a good-will ambassador. We can set the tone, we can provide exceptional service and we can show those out-of-towners that something special is going on here. That assignment  includes everyone – from the business owners to the waitresses to the gas station attendants. If Vandalia is going to realize its potential to capitalize on tourism, it will be because we – as an entire community – take customer service seriously. At every turn, we must surprise and delight them.
That will be the real take-away that they’ll remember as they leave town. And, oh yeah, there was some interesting Lincoln stuff here, too.
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