Local News

Greed or Need: Debating the Tusayan Name Change

June 15, 2014

If a public forum sponsored by the Grand Canyon Convention and visitor’s Bureau is any indication, most of the businesspeople and residents of Tusayan don’t want the town to change its name. The concept of a name change has been pushed by Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan. No one else in town has called for the name change. The exception is the current president of the CVB, who works for Greg Bryan at the Best Western Squire Inn. She hired two consultants to come to a June 11th public forum at the Squire. In a hastily submitted agenda item, taxpayer dollars were used to cover the consultants’ $2,000 tab.

The name change idea failed to win over the crowd of about 40 people.

One consultant compared marketing Tusayan to a Starbucks franchise or Nike. It’s all about defining the brand. She also noted that Tusayan is difficult to pronounce and it sounds too much like Tucson. And she said that Tusayan is losing market share to Flagstaff and Williams.

The second consultant said changing Tusayan’s name to Grand Canyon would give it an edge in competing for tourist dollars.

The Tusayan business owners and residents attending the forum say there are two things to consider, history and honesty. The community has been defined as Tusayan since the 1930’s or longer.
The consultant felt a town name should tell something about a town.

Red Feather Properties manager Clarinda Vail replied, “(The name)Williams doesn’t tell where they are near, (The name) Flagstaff doesn’t say there is skiing nearby. A lot more town names come from history rather than because the town name tells a story.”

Tusayan Councilman Bill Fitzgerald commented, “We are a small town… we are not Nike…how can you respect the name of Tusayan by changing it; this town does have a lot of history in that name.”

Fitzgerald said changing the town’s name isn’t needed but he did say a definitive marketing slogan such as “Entrance to the Grand Canyon” may be helpful. Fitzgerald has been a tireless voice on this issue and voiced oppostion to the Town spending critical resources on consultants for something most residents object to.

Those in attendance did agree that more effort needs to be made to market Tusayan.

Now to the honesty issue. Many of those attending the meeting worry that if the name is changed to “Grand Canyon” that will upset lots of travelers who booked a room at a Tusayan hotel and expect to see the Grand Canyon out the window. The Canyon is six miles away from Tusayan. It’s not a great distance but it is a distance. That kind of deception may be acceptable to out-of-town developers, but the residents and businesspeople of Tusayan have a problem with that.

One attendee noted that USA is in the middle of the word Tusayan.

And former Mayor Pete Shearer, who does not favor the name change, did offer thanks for starting a dialogue about marketing the community.