What do you know about tourism? Did you know that Carbondale has a tourism-based economy? Did you even know your hometown has a tourism board? If you can’t answer one or all of these three questions, then pull up a chair. The Tourism Council of Carbondale, a volunteer committee which oversees the marketing and management of local tourism, wants you to get to know us. And, over the next month, we also want to hear from you, our locals.  

It’s no surprise that we’ve had another banner summer season for tourism, with more visitors than ever before thanks to the continued surge in domestic tourism as the COVID-19 pandemic era of travel continues in 2021. There’s been more road-trippers exploring Colorado and landing in our hometown. They hike the trails, camp on local public lands, raft and float the rivers — enjoying all the things we are privileged enough to enjoy in our backyard. The silver lining of these visitors is they spend money in our stores, they eat in our local restaurants, they stay in our hotels and lodges — and this visitor spending flows into our local economy and our pockets. The economic value of tourism is clear, but now we need to understand other ways — good and bad — tourism impacts us as a host community.

Until now, Carbondale Tourism has measured success by tracking the increased sales and lodging tax collected by the Town. But, as we sharpen our focus on issues around sustainable tourism, including the social and environmental impacts, we also need to start understanding what tourism feels like for residents as the hosts. For the first time, Carbondale Tourism is surveying the community to gather a snapshot of resident sentiment. To shape the future of our initiatives, we need your input. We invite you to participate in two surveys: one is specifically for local residents and the other is for our business community (the other tourism stakeholders). The surveys can be accessed at: https://carbondale.com/tourism-feedback-survey/

This summer, Carbondale Tourism kicked off participation in the Colorado Tourism Office’s Restart Destinations program, a year-long program provided by the Colorado Tourism Office. This program is funded by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to drive near-term recovery and foster long-term resilience for the Colorado tourism industry. Through this work, the Colorado Tourism Office seeks to serve as an extended team for Colorado destinations like Carbondale to prioritize and implement collaborative projects that advance recommendations from the forthcoming Colorado Tourism Roadmap to Recovery, a new five-year strategic plan being developed for the Colorado tourism industry.

Carbondale Tourism, along with the neighboring Roaring Fork Valley tourism organizations of Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Snowmass Tourism, Basalt Chamber of Commerce and Visit Glenwood Springs, was selected to participate in the program. This will guide the formation of a valley-wide destination stewardship initiative. Each community’s tourism organization is currently surveying their residents and local tourism businesses to better understand the impacts of tourism, which has come under the spotlight from communities locally and regionally as domestic tourism surges.

The Restart Destinations program runs through June 30, 2022. As a participant in the program, Roaring Fork Valley “destinations” will each receive a recovery assessment, a full-day action planning workshop, 75 hours of technical assistance to advance the designated priority project and $10,000 of direct marketing support from the Colorado Tourism Office. We look forward to updating you on our progress over the next few months.

To close out this update, we recognized a growing need to inform the Carbondale community about the value of our local tourism industry and we have launched a new monthly newsletter for Carbondale Chamber of Commerce members to provide updates on how tourism is fairing in Carbondale and Garfield County. So, please follow along with us each month and feel free to attend one of our monthly meetings. The schedule is posted at https://carbondale.com/commerce/tourism-board-staff/  

Reach out with your questions and comments at: chamber@carbondale.com

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