By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
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By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
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FORKS — Forks has a lot more to offer than just Twilight tours and memorabilia, says the chamber's new tourism promoter.
And she should know.
Lissy Andros became a big fan of the popular vampire series while reading the first book in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series of novels over Christmas 2008.
A year later, she packed up and moved from Tyler, Texas, to the West End town where the story about teen love and vampires is set after looking all over the country for a new place to live.
But it wasn't the books that convinced her to move out here, she said; it was the friendly people and the mild climate that she experienced on a trip to Forks in 2009 that caused her to pick it as her new home.
“I was just hooked,” said Andros, 42. “I didn't want to live anywhere else.
“Like a lot of people, they come because of Twilight, and they come back because of Forks.”
That's what Andros, who started last week as the Forks Chamber of Commerce's tourism marketing and promotion director, believes is the town's saving grace once the fervor over the vampire books and movies wanes.
“We still definitely want the Twilighters to come,” she said. “We love them. We just want them to know that if they're not fans of Twilight, there are still great things to do here.”
That includes fishing, hiking, kayacking and just enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, Andros said.
She said her job is to highlight those qualities to people who may be aware of Forks because of the exposure of Twilight but want something more to do.
“Right now, we have a lot of women coming for Twilight, but we want to let them know that the men in the family can come,” Andros said.
Social media will be key to spreading that message, she said.
Facebook and Twitter will both be used aggressively, and so will the chamber's own website, Andros said.
A forum on the chamber's website will also soon be added where visitors can ask questions about the area, she said.
“We have so many more things to offer,” Andros said.
“We're also not just working on this summer. We want to get people here year-round.”
The Forks Visitor Center is seeing its Twilight fan visits return to normal after taking a four-month downturn.
Visitor center manager Mike Gurling said Wednesday that about 100 people a day have been signing the center's guest book for about the past two weeks. That's on par, he said, for the same time last year.
As usual, nearly all of the visitors are fans of the best-selling Twilight series of novels set in Forks, fans, Gurling said.
Many are visiting during their spring break, he said. They are coming from all over the world, including Europe and Australia.
“There has been concern that we may not be as busy [this year],” he said.
“Right now, as of this week, we're seeing the same number we did last year, and that's a really good sign.”
While overall visits were up slightly last year, the visitor center saw the number of people signing its guest book drop significantly beginning in November.
That month had 1,749 visitors, down 40 percent from November 2009. December, which saw 1,825 visitors, had a smaller drop of 28 percent more than one year earlier.
There were 1,274 visits in January, which was 39 percent fewer than January 2010, when 2,087 visits were logged.
February, with 1,650 visits, saw a 25 percent drop from the same month in 2010, when 2,192 people visited the center.
Gurling said he wasn't sure why visitations dropped four months ago but added that he thinks Forks is still seeing the peak of Twilight fandom, as visitors come to see where their favorite fantasy characters live in the novels of teen love, vampires and werewolves.
“When summer rolls around, I think we are going to be just as busy,” he said.
“I don't think our numbers are going to be dropping,” Gurling continued, adding that he expects total visits to be the same this year as in 2010.
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.