KINGMAN - With international Route 66 tourism benefiting Kingman more than ever, a City Council with barely enough members to make a quorum voted unanimously Tuesday to provide nearly $4,900 to fund a promotional tour to Germany.
The money will be used to pay Kingman resident Jim Hinckley's airfare, food, lodging and ground transportation while at the inaugural European Route 66 Festival near Stuttgart, in southern Germany.
Hinckley, a historian and the author of several books about the iconic highway, will be in Germany in July for more than beer and brats. He will present a slide show regarding the highway in Arizona.
He also has meetings scheduled with several tour companies to discuss lodging, attractions and other features and amenities of northwestern Arizona.
He also has meetings scheduled with the Route 66 associations of Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Germany for similar discussions.
Route 66 is hugely popular in Europe and is gaining notice internationally. A festival in the Czech Republic in 2014 attracted 20,000 people. German media also plans to interview Hinckley and he has tentative plans to make presentations in Frankfurt and Heidelberg. Hinckley might also meet - and market Kingman - in meetings with Route 66 associations from Italy, France and Norway, as well as Japan, while in Germany.
Councilwoman Jen Miles said she considers Hinckley a "great ambassador" for Kingman and she also noted the "true enthusiasm" foreigners have for the highway before she recommended the Council approve the request.
Mayor Richard Anderson said he spoke with a foreign tourist at lunch on Tuesday and she said she visited Kingman last year and would return again next year.
"I did the math," said the mayor, before noting the woman contributed more to the city's sale tax in two days than the average resident does in a month. Anderson said Route 66 is a "tremendous asset to the city and we're getting better at exploiting it. Mr. Hinckley is a very visible expert."
Anderson, Miles, and Councilmen Larry Carver and Stuart Yocum voted to fund Hinckley's trip. Vice Mayor Carole Young and Councilmen Mark Abram and Ken Dean were absent.
The money will come from the city's tourism account, which receives its funding from room taxes paid by people who rent hotel and motel rooms, and RV spaces.