EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 1 of a four-part series.Similar to a strong building structure, a community must have four well-supported attributes, or pillars, in order to survive and compete in the field of destination marketing.
Many communities have difficulty maintaining all four of these attributes and thus are not as effective as they could be. Some pour money into two or three until they notice the fourth lacking in support or crumbling. Then they switch their efforts or investments and take money from one to support the other.
The four pillars are: The Goods, The Political Will, Transportation and Facilities.
First and foremost, the community must be able to deliver The Goods. That means it must have something of value that attracts the visitor from near and far. That is hardly a problem with Durango and Southwest Colorado.
We have historic downtown Durango, or Main Avenue, a beautifully preserved Western town, filled with friendly people, good restaurants, art galleries and an old-fashioned small-town feel.
There is a pulse and vitality this town exudes that is hard to define. Just walk around many other towns or communities our size and you will realize exactly what I mean. Most feel dead or on life support.
Not Durango. We are enthusiastic, if not hyperactive. We have Snowdown, Bluegrass Meltdown, Brewfest and Wine Experience, and Cowboy Poetry. We have more restaurants per capita than San Francisco, not to mention a half dozen award-winning microbreweries, two distilleries and a vibrant organic gardening industry which supports our schools and restaurants.
We also have the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a life-sized, 19th century steam engine locomotive that thrills children and adults from all over the world. It allows them to travel in the days of yesteryear and imagine life in the Old West. It also provides them with an awesome mountain experience without the stress or strain of backpacking or tents.
We have the famous Purgatory Ski Resort a mere 20-minute drive north of town. Good snow, great runs and short, fast-moving lines.
We also have the beautiful Animas River, which flows right through the center of our town. River rafting and trout fishing abound in this beautiful, 126-mile waterway. You can even ride your bike or stroll along its shore for eight miles.
Close by is Mesa Verde National Park, a United Nations-designated World Heritage Site with 800-year-old cliff dwellings that hold the mystery of why the inhabitants came there and why they left.
And, as we all know, there is hiking, biking (both road and mountain), backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, running and off-roading.
Therein lies our marketing challenge: There is too much to do here!
How we market a community that has so many attractions, many similar to other Rocky Mountain towns, is not an easy question. The main point is, we deliver the goods.
Next time: In Part 2, I will discuss whether Durango has the Political Will to compete with other successful tourism-based communities in Colorado.
Contact Durango Area Tourism Office Executive Director Frank Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.