The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 16, 2012

Bureau’s tornado map creates Facebook flap

JOPLIN, Mo. — A furor broke out on Facebook over the weekend after a Springfield television station reported that the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau had produced a map to help market the tornado zone to sightseers.

But the bureau’s director said Monday that his intent is only to help visitors who ask for directions to the zone.

Patrick Tuttle, director of the CVB, said the bureau is not planning a “tornado tourism” marketing program for Joplin. He said some of the information he discussed with a TV reporter was reported inaccurately.

The story reported that the bureau is distributing a map to direct visitors to the tornado zone and that it plans to start guided bus tours of the zone in the spring.

“The map was made in-house and was designed as an informational piece, not a sales piece,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle said the Welcome Center operated by the Missouri Division of Tourism on Interstate 44 was using a city map printed in the bureau’s glossy tourism brochures to show to motorists who asked for directions on how to get to the tornado zone. He said visitors also were asking at motels and restaurants how to get to the tornado zone or to certain landmarks, such as Joplin High School, Cunningham Park, St. John’s Regional Medical Center and the seven homes built by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

He said that in response, he and his staff printed a map that was cheaper to produce than the glossy brochures so that Welcome Center workers or hotel staff members could provide a map to those who asked. It was meant to serve not only visitors but also volunteers coming to work in the zone, he said.

On the back side of the map, the bureau provided an outline of the main statistics about the EF-5 tornado on May 22 and its aftermath.

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