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Economic Benefit Of Geocaching In Athens, Ohio

Spotted online today is this small article on the small town of Athens, Ohio that has introduced geocaching trails as a way to boost tourist numbers and bring more tourist revenue to the town.

Geocaching, a game of high-tech treasure hunting, has landed Athens a small fortune by attracting tourists to the town.

“It’s had a great economic impact and it’s been really successful and a lot of fun to see,” said Jenna Dill, Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau Marketing and Sales Manager. “Sixty percent of the people who have done the trails have been outside of Athens.”

Since June 2011, geocachers equipped with a GPS, or a map for the old-school players, have made more than 2,000 finds at the various Athens County locations, but fewer than 200 people have actually completed the trail.

The article leaves out all the info that geocachers might actually want. The two trails that Athens County has set up (a traditional trail and a fully accessible trail) seem to be made of 16 caches spread out around Athens. Most of the caches seem to be at interesting locations and the listing appear well thought out with lots of information.

The cachers are not only attracted to the trail, and the 80 other geocaches in the area, but in completing an Athens GeoTrail you are eligible for an official Athens geocoin. You have to collect answers from each cache on the trail to show you completed it and be eligible for the coin.

The local Holiday Inn appears to be part of the initiative and offers a special rate to geocachers.

It seems like a very clever initiative. The numbers don’t appear huge at first glance, 200 people in six months is not massive, but the economic impact would appear to make it worthwhile.

“It’s been a big hit for us,” said Dill. “We’ve had a lot of people come from outside the area, and everyone that’s traveled in from out of state has stayed overnight, which has been pretty awesome.”

According to Dill, those who stay in town often venture off and spend money in the uptown area, providing revenue for Athens businesses.

“We don’t have any numbers yet or statistics of the economic impact, I haven’t calculated that yet but from what I can estimate, it’s been at least a $500,000 economic impact since June of 2011,” Dill said.

As the game grows it would make sense for communities to set up small geotrails. They cost very little and seem to have a great return on investment. A few thousand on geocoins for a $500,000 return is pretty good!

 

2 comments

  1. Jenna Dill

    Hey Cumbyrocks,

    Thanks for the awesome blog about our trails here in Athens, Ohio. We appreciate the shout out! Our trails have been quite successful and we couldn’t be more proud! We had a group of local cachers help us develop the trail, otherwise we wouldn’t of been able to pull this off! If you ever head this way, let me know and we’ll set you up with some fun activities. Also, our plans are to develop a new trail every year with a new geocoin! We’ll launch the new trail every June 🙂

    Thanks and take care!

    Jenna Dill, Athens County CVB

  2. Robert Holbrook

    As one of the individuals responsible for the development of these trails (my Creativity classes at Ohio University made the original proposals), I can verify everything you report here. The article you found was for the benefit of the local community (both to entice locals to get involved and report on the success of the trail).

    Originally, Athens CVB agreed to develop these two trails only. The overwhelming success led them to propose that a new trail be launched each year. We will “mothball” the old trail, leaving the caches in place but not reordering coins once the original supply is depleted. We are currently developing an historically-based trail for the next launch. Athens CVB is also planning to bid on a regional mega event and there is one other big project in the works.

    These folks get (i.e., the economic impact) and are very supportive of caching in the area.

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