19 Jul

Terry Selk

published on July 19, 2013 - 6:17 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Terry Selk
Executive Director
Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

What we do: A non-profit agency that acts as the marketing organization for Mariposa County, which includes Yosemite National Park.

Education: Sacramento State, master’s degree in recreation tourism and a bachelor’s degree in communications

Age: 50

Family: Wife Faith and son Reilly (20)

What drew you to being involved in the tourism industry?
I essentially fell into it while I was working on my master’s degree. I was seeking an internship to complete the program and had an opportunity to do an internship at the state’s tourism office at the time. During that internship, I found what I felt was my career path and have been in the destination marketing industry for the past 25 years.


What is it about Yosemite National Park that brings so many people from all over the country and globe, Terry?
It’s a truly special place with its geographic makeup and scenic integrity. People come from around the world to experience the crown jewel of the national park system and our job is to encourage them to not only experience the park, but to understand it is a destination that demands a larger commitment of time than a half of a day.  

Is there a most popular attraction in the park, Terry?
The most popular attraction is what is referred to as the Valley Floor. People come from all over the world to capture on film and see for themselves the same things as Ansel Adams and many other photographers and historical figures — those shots of Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls

Have you seen an increase in the tourism of the park, Terry?
The visitation to the park has steadily increased over the past few years and surpassed the 4 million-visitor mark the past few years.

How does that compare to the pre-recession tourism levels, Terry?
Obviously any sort of economic situation has an impact on any sort of attraction’s gate, and it has worked two ways. First, local people who may have looked to travel farther distances may not be able to, so they look for other opportunities closer to home. Those types of situations tend to attract a large local and regional visitation. On the other front, from the national perspective, the currency plays a huge role in the economies of those countries. For example, the buying power of the United Kingdom is strong against the U.S. dollar and it tends to attract larger volumes of people from that country. It works as a pro and a con. The attraction of the Yosemite attracts worldwide.

What are some of your most memorable experiences being involved in the tourism bureau, Terry?
The most rewarding experience has been to see people’s reactions when you share information as to why they should stay longer. I think the park worldwide is misperceived as a place to come and spend a half of a day. But when you convey all of the experiences, whether it be hiking, river rafting, horseback riding, mountain climbing, etc., that are available for people to extend their stay, their eyes light up and they are encouraged by the idea of staying longer.

What was your first job growing up and what did you learn from it, Terry?
My first job growing up was being a Fuller Brush door-to-door salesperson. I learned customer relations, follow-through, commitment, financial management and it taught me a lot of discipline in terms of how to manage a timetable or schedule. Probably the most important thing was exposing me to people I was unfamiliar with and helping me gain confidence in communications with strangers.

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