Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Speaker: States, localities can promote uniqueness of rural places with a camera and social media

By Tim Mandell
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Promoting rural tourism is as simple as having access to a camera and social media. That was the message Cory Ramsey, creator of the Facebook page Map Dot, Kentucky, delivered to the Southeast Tourism Society Spring Symposium Tuesday in Lexington.

For the past five years Ramsey has traveled the back roads and off the beaten paths throughout the state, posting photos of his journeys and encouraging people to respond with their thoughts on small town life. Ramsey, who said he has taken thousands of photos, said people in any state can follow his model to promote their states. And since most people have a digital camera or a camera phone, along with a Facebook or Instagram page, sharing rural life is fairly simple. (Tim Mandell photo: Cory Ramsey)

"Outside of big cities, we're full of unique places," Ramsey said. "My luxury is, when I travel I get to plug every single place in Kentucky. Every single downtown. Every single greasy spoon. Every single tree on the side of the road that looked good and I wanted to post a picture of."

He said every state has its own unique places just waiting to be shared with the rest of the world. "People connect with rural America," Ramsey said. "You have a wealth of places that add to the mosaic  that color the whole picture that add to the reputation of your state as a cool place." he said people have told him that they visited a town after seeing it featured on his site.

A short visit opens the door to more, Ramsey said. Tourists who like an area will return, or might turn a day trip into an overnight trip, turning a one-day trip into two days, or turn a two-day trip into five days, staying longer to seek out other interesting sites in the area. "Get out there and drive the back roads and see where these places are," he said. "It's not just Kentucky. It's everywhere."

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