Please join Visit Durango in welcoming tourism industry executive Barbara Bowman as interim executive director. Barb brings a wealth of industry expertise to Durango from 27 years leading tourism efforts for Visit Grand Junction.
A Colorado native, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.S. in Recreation. Her experience includes management and sales in the travel agency, hotel and destination marketing industry segments.
Barb was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Tourism Office Board, and has served on the National Tour Association and Tour Colorado Board of Directors. Some of her awards include the Colorado Individual Contribution to Tourism, Supplier of the Year, National Tourism Association Volunteer of the Year, and Service Above Self award from the Rotary Club of Grand Junction. She currently serves on the Colorado Tourism Office International Promotions Committee as advisor to the Tour Colorado Board of Directors.
It’s no secret that 2018 was a rough year for Durango tourism. Exceptional drought conditions brought less than 40 percent of average snowfall to the Animas River basin, and by May 31, Southwest Colorado’s snowpack was just 3 percent of historic average. While last year presented challenges, it also posed opportunities to evaluate destination development and managing responsible tourism growth for the region moving forward.
On Jan. 24, the U.S. Drought Monitor downgraded most of Southwest Colorado from D4 – the most intense category of the five drought conditions – to category D3, “Extreme Drought.” The U.S. Drought Monitor ranks drought conditions on five levels, from D0 (Abnormally Dry) to D4 (Exceptional Drought). And while we are not out of the woods just yet, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful.
Purgatory’s Greg Ralph reports that while last season’s snowfall through the end of January was just 35 inches, this year has seen over 131 inches in the same timeframe, resulting in a 50 percent increase in skier visits so far.
Plans for destination marketing in 2019 include promoting season-specific travel, with particular focus on dispersing visitors to the shoulder seasons. In the coming years, the solution to managing sustainable growth for our region is developing off-peak reasons to visit that attract a more purposeful traveler.
Along those same lines, other plans include working with the Colorado Tourism Office to proactively encourage visitors to adhere to the Leave No Trace Seven Principles. This campaign is aimed at guiding travelers to show care for the state’s water, land and wildlife while helping protect special Colorado places.
For 2019, DATO has assembled an incredible leadership team, staff and board of directors. Carrie Whitley joins as board chair, bringing more than 24 years of tourism industry experience and nonprofit leadership. She is currently director of tourism relations and sales for American Heritage Railway, and worked with DATO as sales manager from 2006 to 2010.
She has also served on several of Colorado’s most prominent tourism-related committees and organizations, and received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Tourism in 2015.
Furthermore, the members of the DATO Board of Directors each represents a diverse sector of our community, and brings the skills and talents necessary for this next phase of leadership.
DATO would like to thank outgoing board chair Antonia Clark for her service in 2018. The board also recognizes the efforts and dedication of the DATO staff over the past year, working to ensure a quick recovery after the 416 Fire.
Theresa Graven is the PR strategist for the Durango Area Tourism Office. She can be reached at 247-3500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.