If you are like most of us, you have friends and relatives visiting this summer. Who doesn’t want to visit Durango? We know these visits take a lot of planning and effort on your part, so first and foremost, Visit Durango wants to thank you for bringing these wonderful visitors to town. We also want to help you to make the visit memorable.
Check out Durango.org for complete area information, including ideas on what to do, what to see, where to dine and what events to attend. Visit Durango’s website has a calendar of events to help you find that extra-special thing to do with your guests. Take a look at our most recent blog on the website, entitled “100 Things To Do in Durango,” which features fun events, activities and attractions to consider. Visit Durango blogs four times per month.
Stop by or send your guests to the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Ave. The Welcome Center is a collaboration between the city, Fort Lewis College, the Business Improvement District and Purgatory Resort. Open since 2012, the Welcome Center sees about 134,000 visitors per year.
DWC’s staff offers current information and expertise on just about anything to see and do in the area. Pick up a Travel Planner for your own pocket guide to the area. You and your guests can even purchase tickets to the Community Concert Hall and Mesa Verde National Park’s guided ranger tours. The DWC is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. We challenge you to try and stump the staff with a question about the area. So far, they’re yet to be stumped.
If you are planning a meeting, reunion or wedding this year, call the Visit Durango staff at 247-3500 for free assistance with lodging, services, attractions or activities. They can recommend unique places to meet, have a reception, picnic or meal. Visit Durango’s staff prides itself in having current information and contacts for facilities and services to make it easy for you to plan a successful event.
Speaking of welcoming visitors, Visit Durango encourages you to participate in May’s National Civility Month, endorsed by the city of Durango and the Community Relations Commission. The city and commission want to encourage businesses, organizations and individuals to model civil behavior and tone, and to promote respect for diversity for residents and visitors who live, work, shop and play in our city. The commission has developed a volunteer Civility First Durango Pledge, available at the DWC or Durango City Hall, for yourself, your business or organization, along with brochures, buttons and stickers. There is even a 31-day Civility Challenge at www.civilityexperts.com. So take the pledge and challenge!
Finally, Tourism Week is May 5-11 this year. Did you know that Colorado ranks among the top-five destinations people aspire to visit, just after California, Florida, New York and Hawaii, according to a 2017 study by TravelZoo?
In research conducted for the Colorado Tourism Office in 2017, Durango was the top destination to visit on the Western Slope for overnight leisure trips, with the second being the Colorado River. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was one of only three activities/attractions on the aforementioned list as well. Mesa Verde National Park was No. 4 of national parks and monuments that people wanted to visit in Colorado.
Here’s another reason why tourism matters: In 2017, the tourism industry in La Plata County – representing lodging, food/beverage, and retail – was responsible for $9.6 million in local taxes and $310.4 million in travel spending, according to Dean Runyan Associates. Typically, visitors pay approximately a third of local taxes.
As former Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “Tourism is the gateway to economic development.” One myth about tourism is that it is not an economic driver. National research indicates the industry creates a “halo effect” by making a destination a better place to live, start a business, attend college and retire. Twenty-two percent of Americans’ first jobs were in tourism. Furthermore, travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small-business employer in the U.S. Sound familiar, Durango?
We keep hearing around town that tourism is 25% of Durango’s economy. Certainly, in generating approximately 1.3 million visitors a year who significantly add to the tax base, it is an industry worth watching and celebrating. Hopefully, we’ve given you some food for thought as to why tourism should matter to the community and you.
Barbara Bowman is the interim executive director of Visit Durango. She is a third-generation Colorado native, with Silverton roots. She recently retired after 27½ years with Visit Grand Junction. Barb can be reached at 261-1052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.