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"RiverSouth" collaboration seeks to boost Scott Co. tourist traffic

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Hey, whaddya say we head down to RiverSouth? They say it's the land of big fun.

The "they" in question is Scott County, plus its two biggest cities (Shakopee and Prior Lake) and its four biggest tourist attractions (Canterbury Park, Mystic Lake, the Renaissance Festival and Valleyfair). The Business Journal reports they are all joining a "tourism campaign built around a new brand: RiverSouth, Land of Big Fun."

The joint website for the branding effort opened for business Wednesday morning. The new website brags that the area offers visitors "huge attractions, world-class and breathtaking scenery all within arm's reach."

The Star Tribune reports the campaign is designed to make “RiverSouth, Land of Big Fun” a name that will strike tourists in the same way that other regional terms do. (Think "the North Shore" or "the Wisconsin Dells.") In addition to the website, the first phase of the collaboration includes direct mail and emails to existing customers. Phase two may include joint social media efforts, ad buys and billboards.

Although the Scott County attractions already draw more than 10 million visitors a year, the effort is working to bring in more local visitors seeking a staycation as well as out-of-town traffic.

“We think there’s an opportunity, with that family thinking of driving out to Rapid City [S.D.] or the Wisconsin Dells, those kinds of regional trips," Randy Sampson, president and CEO of Canterbury Park, told the Star Tribune. "How do we get that family from Anoka or Stillwater to think ,‘Why do we have to drive all that way?’ and come here, get a hotel room and spend a few days.”

The initiative is an extension of a two year old deal between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners of Mystic Lake Casino and hotel, and Canterbury Park. Under the terms of the agreement, the tribe agreed to funnel tens of millions into track purses, which boosted attendance at the track by 12 percent from 2012 to 2013. The track and the tribe have collaborated to strengthen each other’s business, including adding a trolley to transport guests between the two venues.

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