Selling a destination: Convention and Visitors Bureau works for bettering Dickinson

The Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau is diligent in bringing tourism and commerce to the Western Edge. (Photography by Nathanial A. Barrera/ The Dickinson Press)

On hurried trips to the local fast-food joint, the average Dickinsonian may pass by the Convention and Visitors Bureau a hundred times a day. But are the town’s residents really aware of the important role that it plays in local commerce and tourism?

Pop in between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and you’re likely to find the agency’s executive director, Terri Theil, and her colleagues toiling away at their respective errands, working hard to educate the world on the wonders of the Western Edge.

“You’re either in them or out of them,” Theil said cheerfully as she explained a topographical map of southwestern North Dakota, it’s cavernous Badlands emerging from roving green grasslands, sometimes without warning. “When people who have never been come out here, we tell them ‘you’re coming along and all of sudden, you’re going to come around a corner and boom.’”

In layman’s terms, every time someone checks into a hotel, 2% of the tax they pay goes to agencies like the CVB. Since the tan city building itself was built by a hospitality, rather than property or sales, tax, meaning Theil’s unique position is supported by visitor, not residential money.

In so many words, Theil and her team spend their days with a single goal in mind: allowing folks to see the region’s magic in all its forms. According to the director, what makes people want to move to an area they visited first are at least one of three reasons: school systems, health care and quality of life.


This last consideration, while intangible by its very nature, is arguably the core of Theil’s job.

“We may not sell a room, but we sell a destination,” she said with a smile. “We do a lot of things to work within the community that ultimately make it more attractive for visitors to come.”

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