Wind River Visitors Council
The Wind River Visitors Council’s mission is to “stimulate tourism by increasing awareness of, and encouraging visitation to, the unique destinations, activities and events in Wind River Country.”
The Wind River Visitors Council (WRVC) is located at 100 N 1st Street in Lander, in the same building as the Lander Chamber of Commerce. The WRVC is a Lodging Tax Board and is responsible for promoting the travel and tourism industry in Fremont County and on the Wind River Indian Reservation through expenditures of the Lodging Tax. The Council was formed by a Joint Powers Agreement in 1989 between the Fremont County Commissioners, the cities of Lander and Riverton and the towns of Dubois, Hudson and Shoshoni. 10 Board Members represent the municipalities and are appointed by local City Councils and the Fremont County Commissioners. (Two Board Members represent Dubois, Lander and Riverton—six total, one Board Member represents Hudson and Shoshoni—two total, and two Board Members represent the County.)
The Wind River Visitors Council’s staff consists of Helen Wilson, Executive Director and Melanie Hoefle, Community Engagement Manager. Helen and Melanie enjoy living in Wind River Country and are thrilled to promote the wonderful and unique communities throughout Fremont County and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Wind River Visitors Council do?
The Wind River Visitors Council is the lodging tax board for Wind River Country, which includes Fremont County and the Wind River Indian Reservation. It uses the four percent lodging tax to stimulate tourism by increasing awareness of, and encouraging visitation to, the unique destinations, activities and events in Wind River Country.
What is the Tourism Asset Development program (TAD)?
The TAD program is a voluntary program that is unique to Wind River Country. The Wind River Visitors Council gives 25 percent of the local lodging tax back to the communities in the percentage that they contribute to the lodging tax. Dubois currently brings in 33.8 percent of the lodging tax, Lander currently brings in 31.1 percent of the lodging tax and Riverton currently brings in 35.1 percent of the lodging tax. In addition, the Wind River Visitors Council currently provides a flat rate of $3,000 to Hudson and $6,000 to Shoshoni. Depending on occupancy rates, these numbers are constantly changing, and the numbers shown here reflect December 2021.
If TAD funds are distributed by the percentage of the lodging tax that they bring in, then why do Dubois, Lander and Riverton get close to the same? It seems that Riverton has more hotels.
TAD funds are measured by zip code, not by City/Town limits. Therefore, the dude ranches outside of Dubois, as well as the cabins on Togwotee Pass fall under Dubois. Lander has many surrounding campsites. Riverton has the most hotels, but the smallest amount of “County” properties, which are the lodging properties that fall outside of the City limits. Dubois currently houses 63.27 percent of the County properties. Lander houses 30.61 percent of the County properties and Riverton houses 6.12 percent of the County properties. (These numbers are current as of December 2021.)
How much money are we talking about?
Last fiscal year a total of $169,935.94 was distributed to Destination Dubois, the Lander Chamber of Commerce, the Riverton Chamber of Commerce, Hudson and the Shoshoni Chamber of Commerce.
If I want to get TAD funds for an event or program, who would I talk to?
In Lander, Riverton and Shoshoni, you’d talk to the Chamber of Commerce for that town/city. In Hudson, you’d talk to City Hall, and in Dubois, you’d talk to Destination Dubois.
Can the Wind River Visitors Council help me to promote an event? If so, how?
Absolutely. The Wind River Visitors Council maintains an ongoing online calendar, which automatically posts to County 10 and the Wyoming Office of Tourism. In addition, the Wind River Visitors Council sends events to many of the Chamber newsletters. Events can be sent to the Wind River Visitors Council’s Community Engagement Manager, Melanie Hoefle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can’t lodging tax money be spent on?
Funds may not be spent on alcohol, lobbying efforts or capital construction (building a building).
How is the Wind River Visitors Council Board of Directors made up?
The Board of Directors has two representatives from Dubois (currently Randy Lahr and Frank Welty), Lander (currently Thomas Pede and Owen Sweeney) and Riverton (currently Julie Buller and Hal Herron), one representative from Hudson (currently Helen Gordon) and Shoshoni (currently Joel Highsmith), and two representatives from the County (currently John Bass and Cy Lee). Representatives are designated by the Mayor of each town/city, and in the case of the County, by the County Commissioners.
How many employees does the Wind River Visitors Council have?
The Wind River Visitors Council has two employees, Helen Wilson (Executive Director) and Melanie Hoefle (Community Engagement Manager).
What organizations does the Wind River Visitors Council work with?
The Wind River Visitors Council works with many organizations in the towns, cities, County and State. This includes the Chamber of Commerces, economic development groups, colleges and universities and the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
What types of projects does the Wind River Visitors Council get involved with?
The Wind River Visitors Council gets involved with projects focused on tourism. Some of the types of projects are listed below:
- Video production
- WY Responsibly campaigns (including BearSaver recycling/trash containers and bike racks)
- Continental Divide Trail recognition
- Audio tours
- Event production
- Destination optimization campaigns, which include Google Travel and business listings on Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor
- The production and distribution of brochures including Wind River Country Vacation Guides and the Wind River Indian Reservation Audio Tour
- Local, national and international marketing campaigns
- Social media marketing campaigns
- Digital signs
- Influencer campaigns
- Crisis communications
- Motorcoach tours
- Earned media
- Displays featuring Wind River Country
How does the State support the efforts of the Wind River Visitors Council?
The Wyoming Office of Tourism divides the State into five sections, which are shown on the map below. Wind River Country falls into the “Rockies to Tetons” region. The State markets each of the regions individually and as a whole. In addition, the State offers co-ops, where designated marketing efforts are matched in funds.