Tourism is more than just alive and well.
Last year, 64.6 million travelers stuffed $17.3 billion into Colorado Tourism coffers. Both numbers set new state records, and 2014 is on pace to match or surpass. State taxes generated from tourism were $976 million, or roughly $199 for every Colorado resident, with half going to local municipalities.
The Longwoods International Report tracks visitor spending showing vacationers “on holiday” spent $376 per person.
In our little burg, tourism in La Plata County is considered a “base” industry, as it brings in money from outside the area to circulate throughout the local economy. Local scorekeeping is measured by collections from sales taxes and lodgers occupancy taxes, as well as hotel occupancy percentages and nightly rates. With most of the high-volume months behind us, 2014 will close ahead of budgets and projections.
Tourism is also considered a “clean” industry, in that it does not use up natural resources nor creates polluting by-products. It is also sustainable because the focus is on preserving the resources and attractions that people come to see.
According to Region 9 Economic Development, a total of 31,862 jobs exist in La Plata County with 18 percent, or 5,776 jobs, attributable to tourism. That tourism workforce of nearly 6,000 collects $157,000,000 in payroll, which also circulates and stimulates the local economy.
The often-used industry equation is: Local investment equals local return. Durango and La Plata County lead the local marketing effort to attract travelers by awarding the use of lodgers-tax collections of about $900,000 to the Durango Area Tourism Office. DATO executes targeted marketing programs across all promotional mediums and works with local tourism providers to help leverage their budgets. A vest pocket audit of our Durango and La Plata County tourism industry identified 671 businesses catering to tourists.
DATO offers several opportunities for individual tourism providers to have direct access to vacation shoppers. For example, DATO is now in the process of launching an industry-leading interactive website with nearly 850 pages of content. One impactful feature of the new website is that those 671 businesses can self-manage their own page(s). By using password-protected access, businesses can upload images, content, specials and make changes as conditions warrant.
Successful tourism results across the state and locally stems from planned collaboration and leveraging of resources. Tourism is the world’s largest industry, and 95 percent of the planet’s population lives outside the United States. Competition for tourists’ dollars is fierce. Colorado is ranked in the top five of places people want to visit in the United States, and La Plata County and the Four Corners have the landscape and experiences that Colorado promotes to the world.
Investing in tourism means profits for local businesses, provides local government with tax revenue and provides thousands of jobs.
No, marketing tourism is not a frill, it’s an economic fuel.
email@example.com. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.