Watford City – North Dakota, one of the least visited states in the country, isn’t exactly an urban metropolis. But the folks at the North Dakota Department of Tourism are hoping to change that perception in hopes of boosting tourism numbers, specifically in Watford City
The North Dakota Department of Tourism recently unveiled it’s latest campaign, “Straight Outta Watford.”
“The goal of the campaign is to provide both in and out-of-state tourists with the sort of experience they couldn’t get unless they were to travel to Chicago or Detroit. It’ll be a nice alternative to Medora,” says the North Dakota Department of Tourism’s Thug Life Director E.Z. Shale. “As soon as guests arrive, they’ll be greeted by an immersive urban experience. A drive down Main Street may result in a few gangs flashing their signature ‘W’ signs with their fingers (the W stands for Watford) or pointing a ‘piece’ at you (that’s slang for a gun). Turn down Poplar Street and you may just witness a drug deal or two going down so keep your camera ready for special scrapbook moments like that. Once you step outside of your vehicle, you can expect to be mugged in a matter of minutes. And you may as well plan on staying a while because chances are someone’s going to steal the tires and rims off your car while it’s parked. Come to Watford for the culture, stay because you’re dead.”
The experience the North Dakota Department of Tourism is creating may sound like it’s far-fetched. But Watford City was recently voted one of the most dangerous cities in North Dakota.
Tourism officials say many of the experiences guests may encounter are already in place and require minimal effort to promote.
“Drugs, violent crime, murder, theft, property damage, most of these things are already happening in the Bakken,” says Shale. “All we’re doing is highlighting them in an alternative way that’s more appealing for tourists. We don’t refer however to any of the crime in Watford City with negative words. Instead, we at the Department of Tourism prefer to call these sorts of incidents as ‘cultural experiences’. That’s the sort of forward thinking the Governor encourages among state employees.”
The North Dakota Department of Commerce is also getting involved with the project by providing incentives for businesses to move to Watford City to add authenticity to the tourism project.
“We’re reaching out to businesses including payday loan and money wiring centers, as well as pawn shops in hopes they’ll consider moving to Watford City,” says North Dakota Department of Commerce Inner City Specialist Crystal Toke. “If a business only deals in cash, even better. Those are the sorts of businesses we need in Watford City. We’re also reaching out to local artists to spruce up the city with colorful graffiti. It’ll be a complete and total transformation that hits all of Governor Burgum’s Main Street Initiative high notes.”
Tourism officials point to Watford City as a cultural hub in North Dakota due to region attracting workers from across the globe to work in the oilfields, which adds to the city’s cultural experience.
“Watford City’s ethnic diversity only adds to the experience,” says Shale. “There’s people in Watford City who moved there from Mexico, Argentina, even Russia and China. It’s North Dakota’s cornucopia of ethnicity. And while the idea of immigration is far from popular with most locals in North Dakota, we’re hoping to work more closely with Lutheran Social Services to relocate all of North Dakota’s ethnically diverse populations to Watford City to create a vibrant inner-city experience complete with housing projects and community centers.”
Tourism officials are hoping their Watford City tourism campaign will be rolled out by mid-summer at the height of tourism season.
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