Wyatt Earp House closing this weekendPosted: Updated:
It's a town where the sound of gun fire is everyday business.
Horse drawn carriages walk down main street and the feeling of the old west is alive every day. Now a town that's been fighting to preserve history is fighting for self preservation.
Hearing the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery is closing for good is sad news for locals and tourists. It's been around for more than a century. It closes on Sunday for good, and officials blame it on the economy and a decline in tourism.
"I didn't know, but I'm not surprised," said Wyatt Earp Theatre Owner James Ferguson. "Our tourism is dropping pretty steadily."
Every owner is fighting for their business to stay alive.
"Last couple years, we wound up closing two of our businesses [and we] now just have this photo studio left," said Old Tyme Photos Owner Jim Newbauer.
"Last few months, 11 businesses closed down," Chamber of Commerce President Susan Wallace said. "We're also seeing large turnover of businesses, but we also have new businesses coming in."
The owners of the Wyatt Earp house are not in town today, but we're told they plan to re-open as a vacation rental. Officials say this is not expected to affect Wyatt Earp Days in May, but some in town feel it will; one less place for visitors to check out.
"Hopefully they'll keep statue of Wyatt there so people can still take pictures with it," Newbauer said.
Town officials say an international marketing campaign is now in the planning stages.
"Normally, the tourists [whom] Tombstone does well with are Europeans, Japanese [and] the Asians," the Mayor said over the phone.
But the town is too tough to die and still hanging on.
"It's very sad but we won't give up," Ferguson said. "We want to promote history of this town, Wyatt earp, mining; it's what this town is all about."
Part of their marketing campaign includes printing their brochures in different languages. The goal is to bring international tourists to Tombstone, Ariz. They also plan to make their website accessible to tourists by offering options for several different languages in the near future.
Chamber president Susan Wallace says this advertising campaign is expected to cost them a few hundred thousand dollars. They hope to use money from the town's bed tax, and revenue generated from city-owned attractions like the boothill cemetary.
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