By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
“Do you have a passport?” Sonny Ledford, a member of the Warriors of Anikituwah, asked a visitor to the Qualla Boundary on Thursday, May 27. The question was asked of numerous tourists as the EBCI Travel & Promotion department kicked off their 2010 Cherokee Passport campaign by handing out the tourism booklets to motorists entering the reservation via the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Passport contains discount coupons to various local businesses, a list of 101 free things to do in Cherokee, a guide to the Painted Bear Trail, a calendar of events in Cherokee, and a map of Cherokee.
“This is about our new passport program, our new advertising tool to let people know how to get around Cherokee,” Robert Jumper, EBCI Travel & Promotions manager, said of Thursday’s event. “We’re having a little photo shoot to let people have some fun with it. We’re having some of our Warriors stop traffic and ask to see their passport. If they don’t have one, well, they’re going to get one anyway, but at least they have a little fun and get introduced to our new passport.”
Mary Jane Ferguson, EBCI Travel & Promotions director, said the idea for the Cherokee Passport was developed this year. “It’s to get people to circulate through town. A lot of times our visitors, we have found, either come to downtown and they don’t go anywhere else or they come to Saunooke Village and then turn around and go back to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. We want those visitors who either frequent the casino or have a favorite place that they like to go to know that there is more to Cherokee than that. We have an expanded retail area and our goal is to get people into these shops, into motels to stay overnight and into restaurants.”
Ledford distributed Passports on Thursday along with fellow Warriors Daniel Tramper and Mike Crowe Jr. “What we’ve done today is promotional for the Cherokee people here on our Boundary,” said Ledford. “We volunteered to do this to help the tourism that comes into our Boundary. They actually get to see what real Cherokee warriors look like. Also, when we do these things for our people, our schools, things like this, it’s made a big impact on the Tsalagi people by teaching and educating about our culture, our past, the history, and the truth. A lot of times the truth isn’t spoken.”
He concluded, “From us here as the Warriors of Anikituwah, we hope that tourism keeps coming and that we keep educating more of the public.”
Cherokee Passports can be obtained at the Cherokee Welcome Center or the kiosks in town. For more information, visit www.cherokee-nc.com/passport.
For more photos of this event, please visit: