If you’re not familiar with our state’s tourism website, type in Colorado.com and congratulate yourself for living in one of the most beautiful and inspiring places on the planet. Our state is consistently rated as one of the top aspirational destinations in the world.
The Colorado Tourism Office has done a great job attracting people from all over to Colorado. The reason for our success is that our cities, scenery and attractions consistently meet and exceed people’s vacation expectations.
At Durango Area Tourism Office, our tourism strategy is to leverage our $500,000 advertising budget with the CTO’s $20 million marketing budget.
We call it “sailing in the wake of the big ship.” The Durango brand’s message follows Colorado into key domestic and international target markets. Of course, when our money runs out, we wave good-bye to the big ship, turn our dingy around and return to dock.
Ask any local “marketeer” where their customers come from and the answer has not really changed much in the last few decades. Because we’re mainly a drive market, Durango draws the bulk of its tourists from neighboring states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Take a walk down Main Avenue (or a drive through a local campground) and you’ll see a wide assortment of out-of-state license plates. We tend to take notice of these visitors because many look and sound like … well, “tourists.”
Our ears are attuned to picking up on regional dialects and other hints of mannerism, dress and custom. It’s also not unusual to hear foreign languages because about 10 percent of our visitors are international.
But, what about Coloradoans? You might be surprised that Colorado is one of Durango’s top source of visitors.
At the state level, the largest audience of vacation shoppers (34 percent) on the state’s Colorado.com website is by Coloradans. Why, because Coloradans are active and outdoorsy. The 4 million people who live mostly along the Front Range make up the bulk of skier visits to our Colorado ski resorts. In summer, they travel the state extensively to mountain bike, attend concerts, hike and climb, run rivers, and visit historic mountain towns. They also seek out local breweries, museums and historical sites. They participate in bicycle events, attend road rallies, and visit friends and family.
Our fellow Coloradoans rank fourth in requesting Durango-area travel planners and are first in website visits to Durango.org. Colorado leads website traffic at 25.7 percent, then Texas at 23.16 percent, then Arizona at 7.39 percent and New Mexico at 7.10 percent.
So why don’t we seem to notice Coloradoans vacationing in Durango? Unless you’re adept at deciphering the Colorado license plate geo-lettering codes, all those Colorado license plates don’t seem out of place. Make no mistake. We do not overlook the value of our Colorado tourists, after all, they are us, and we are them.
email@example.com. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.