The Colorado Office of Tourism is distributing $1.8 million in marketing grants to help urban and Eastern Plains tourism offices recover from the lingering blows of the pandemic.
Federal Economic Development Administration money is part of a $750 million effort in the US bailout to support tourism and outdoor recreation. Tourism has rebounded in Colorado’s mountains, where outdoor recreation has drawn record visits during the pandemic’s urban shutdowns.
Tourism Recovery Marketing Grants announced on Tuesday are for five Front Range communities where international traffic has collapsed and congress business is slow to return.
“We have different communities across the state that are recovering at different rates,” reads a statement from Colorado Tourism Board director Tim Wolfe, who hopes the record grants will help the state return to spending. pre-pandemic visitors of 24.2 billion.
The tourism board reviewed 12 applications from 13 counties seeking $3.2 million as part of the grant application process. Wolfe has said for months that tourism on the Front Range hasn’t recovered as strongly as the state’s mountain destinations and he expected federal recovery dollars to support those urban destinations.
The tourism board has approximately $4.8 million in tourism grants from the Economic Development Administration, of which $2.8 million is for marketing and international visitation programs and $2 million for dollars are being spent on local destination management and recovery in areas that have not recovered from the pandemic. Earlier this year, the office distributed approximately $710,000 in tourism marketing matching grants.
The five Front Range organizations receiving the grants are:
- The City of Loveland Economic Development Corp receives $175,000 for its “What’s Not to Love?” marketing campaign.
- The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau is receiving $400,000 for a campaign that promotes the city’s ties to Olympic athletes and governing bodies.
- The Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau receives $500,000 to reach international visitors.
- The Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau is receiving $175,000 for a campaign to attract off-season leisure travelers.
- Visit Aurora gets $400,000 to better reach conventions and groups.
Two rural communities – Logan County and La Junta – are each receiving $75,000 to launch new marketing campaigns.
Colorado tourism rebounded of the collapse of 2020 with visitors spend $21.9 billion in 2021, according to the latest statewide tourist board surveys. Pleasure Travel — mostly in the Colorado high country – led the rebound as communities in the Front Range and Eastern Plains saw declines. (Visitor spending in the Denver metro area in 2021, for example, was 19% below the pre-pandemic record set in 2019.)
One of Wolfe’s main goals at the tourism board has been to rebuild international visitation to all parts of the state. Foreign visitors spent an all-time high of $1.7 billion in Colorado in 2019, but that spending plummeted to $306 million in 2020 and $385 million in 2021.
Richard Scharf, head of Visits Denver, said federal recovery dollars would help attract more international visitors to the city, which typically serves as a jumping-off point for foreign vacationers who stay longer and spend more when visiting the city. ‘State.
The $75,000 for La Junta will not only help the community find lost visitors, but will also help the community create a new marketing campaign around tarantulas. Earlier this spring, the Colorado Tourist Board donated $20,000 to the city to help launch a program to welcome fall visitors who gather in southeast Colorado to watch the breeding season. annual arachnids in the prairies of the Comanche National Grassland.
Visit La Junta has created a website to help tarantula tourists plan their trip. This new round of funding will help the community further develop its Tarantula Trek program — which it has been promoting since 2018 — as well as educate visitors on how to better respect wildlife and public lands.
This shift from pure marketing to increased visitor management is a major theme playing out in every corner of Colorado’s tourism industry right now, as tourism developers work with local communities to mitigate the impacts of crowds. New tourism campaigns emphasize value of residents as much as visitors as sustainable tourism messages replace traditional incentives encourage people to come and have fun.
“We have done a diligent job of educating people,” said La Junta tourism director Pamela Denahy. “We want to make sure we have a diversified economy and tourism plays a part in that. Tourism is another spoke on our wheel of economic development that helps us revitalize and make La Junta a better place to live.
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