Editor's pick: Originally published August 11.
Who out there understands the importance of snagging a Squirtle or Pikachu?
I for one, do not. Which is another way of saying I don't play Pokémon Go. I don't even pretend to understand the cult-like fascination with the latest incarnation of the Pokémon game, which those of a certain age will remember originally launched in 1996.
But clearly I'm in the minority, because not only is Niantic's new version of the game spreading like wildfire (it's the biggest U.S. mobile game ever, with more than 20 million daily active users according to Survey Monkey), but it's also profoundly impacting the travel and tourism industry.
From Boston to Pasadena, Calif., and throughout the Midwest, tourism industry officials have taken notice of the people of all ages wandering the streets staring into their phones; diving under and over objects; and even walking into hospitals, bathrooms and funeral homes to capture virtual game creatures in the real world.
Welcome to the Pokémon Go craze, which is now attracting more than twice as many users as the dating app Tinder and has also surpassed Twitter in usership. In response to such staggering numbers, tourism industry officials far and wide have begun developing increasingly creative Pokémon Go marketing efforts designed to expose Pokémon Go-playing travelers to their communities, events or destinations in new and different ways, as they hunt for magical little game critters.
In Wyoming, Visit Cheyenne officials recently added a new route to the city's historic trolley tours called The Pokémon Express, a journey that takes riders to more than 40 Pokestops, where they hunt for Pokémon while also being shown landmarks and historic buildings. The first two such tours sold out within days of being created.