GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - While the image of the Grand Canyon can be readily conjured up in the minds of most people, describing that image can often be far more challenging. Even writers, those who make a living from crafting words, can find those words hard to come by when faced with the sheer spectacle of the living landmark. Many say that pictures, words and other forms of media fail to do the Grand Canyon the justice that can only be had by those who physically visit the national park. Travel writers, for instance, hop across oceans and continents frequently in search of the next story. But even for them, words can fail, said Grand Canyon Chamber and Visitor's Bureau Director Craig Andresen, particularly when they are faced with the Canyon.
"This is something that I hear from so many travel writers, throughout the year, is that they are amazed at how different the Grand Canyon looks in person than it does in photographs. They say they just can't believe what they're looking at, that it's just so far beyond what they thought it was going to be. Several travel writers have a difficult time putting it into words," Andresen said.
A small group of travel writers recently made their way from Williams to Grand Canyon in March. The group, representing travel authors from Mexico, Canada, Germany and France, rode the Grand Canyon Railway March 23 and stayed overnight at Maswick Lodge. Writer's included Kira Hanser with a daily newspaper in Germany, Jean-Marc Toussaint with a French newspaper, Mexican journalist Cayo Ruvalcaba, Mexican Photographer José Luis Castillo and Canadian freelance writer Dominick A. Merle.
"They were here for the better part of a day on the 23rd and all day on the 24th, I asked them how they enjoyed the train ride and they were fascinated by it. The neat thing is that none of these people had ever been here before, so this was a brand new experience for them, just as it is for the majority of the 4.5 million people that come here every year," Andresen said.
Travel journalists, he said, take a full tour of the state during their stay through the Arizona Office of Tourism, which helps to coordinate the trips.
"It's about a week's worth of whirlwind Arizona traveling. Then they go back and they write about the experiences they've had," Andresen said. "They're trying to bring the flavor of the area to their readership in their various countries."
The visitor's bureau, both in Tusayan, Williams and other communities, hosts travel writers numerous times throughout the year. Often, Andresen will host travel professionals as well, which he explained would be the equivalent of a travel agent in the United States.
"In this country, we don't use the travel agents the way we used to. More and more people, here in this country, are going to the Internet and using that as their travel planning resource. In a lot of European countries and Asian markets, the travel agent is still the go-to source," Andresen explained.
The importance of hosting travel writers, Andresen added, comes in their readers, those located in other countries, who may read their story and choose the Grand Canyon for their next vacation.
"When you really look at the list of the seven wonders of the world, for most people, this is one of the most accessible ones there is," Andresen said.