By Bailey Buckingham
Through the help of Geotours, the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping to spur tourism in the city.
Geotours are a subset of geocaching, which a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices, according to the geocaching website. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden geocaching container at that location.
Geocaches come in all shapes in sizes – from a travel size medicine container or a 40-gallon drum.
The chamber has set up 17 geocaches on the tour and has partnered with three individuals in Kyle to have a total of 20 caches on the tour for visitors and residents to find.
The tour is designed for all ages and all experience levels, including those new to geocache, whom are referred to as “muggles.”
According to Jessica Walker, Kyle Chamber manager, the tour launched on June 11, but Walker had been developing the tour for almost a year. She said the furthest visitors came from 483 miles away and came specifically to complete Kyle’s tour.
The majority of geocachers who have gone on the tour are visitors, which Julie Snyder, Kyle Chamber of Commerce CEO, said is a huge victory for the chamber. There have been only five residents who have participated in the tour so far.
Walker, GeoTour creator, said the tour is focused on the history of Kyle and that is how she decided where the caches would be hidden throughout the city.
“The entire tour is focused on the history of Kyle so where we came from and where we are now,” Walker said. “We’re featuring the majority of the historical sites that are located in Kyle, parks and recreation and things to do while you’re in Kyle.”
Walker said the time it takes to complete the tour depends on how skilled the geocacher is. The points one receives for doing the tour can be used to receive a geocoin, which the chamber has at its office.
“The true incentive is a geocoin, and you have to get 25 points,” Walker said. “You can’t purchase it anywhere, the only way to get it is to do the tour.”
Walker said you could track your geocoin online after registering it and watch as it progresses throughout the country and abroad. There are other point incentives geocachers can take advantage of as well. Geocachers can receive additional points by finding geocaches in Kyle that are not apart of the tour, spending money in Kyle or staying at a hotel in Kyle by showing a receipt.
Snyder said the reason creating a tour was appealing to her was the tracking abilities geocaching offers.
“It’s really hard for us to track the results of what we’re doing, in ads for example, so for this, we can tell council we’ve had five overnight stays, 76 percent of the people are buying and spending money here, it’s really great for us to be able to track,” Snyder said.
Snyder said many comments on the geocaching logs for the Kyle tour has been not only positive, but in a sense, free advertising for several businesses.
She said people mention when they’ve had a good meal or saw something that caught their eye and it has helped to promote the city.
Snyder said the process of creating the tour is meticulous and there were a lot of steps to take before they could launch. She said one step was informing the police department of the geocache locations in case someone reported suspicious activity.
Walker said because of the success and positive feedback she hopes to roll out a second phase of the geotour, but it is in the very early stages of development.
The chamber is hosting an event for geocachers on Aug. 20 to celebrate International Geocache Day. RSVP by contacting the chamber.
Want to play?
The Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event for geocachers on August 20 to celebrate International Geocache Day. RSVP by contacting the chamber.