Breckenridge gives update on summer tourism outlook, plans for opening Main Street to pedestrians
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the planned closure area for Breckenridge Main Street.
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge is looking at a 50% downturn in tourism for the summer — May through October — according to DestiMetrics lodging data presented to council Tuesday by Breckenridge Tourism Office President and CEO Lucy Kay.
However, Kay said bookings are looking stronger for late July, August and September. In the winter season of November through April, the town ended up with 45% occupancy versus 57% last year.
“All things considered, at least I’m optimistic about late summer and fall, and I really believe Breckenridge is going to do as well as anybody coming back in terms of lodging,” Kay said.
She noted that the tourism office’s website traffic is increasing and that the office is working on expanding its responsible tourism messaging, which originally focused on the environment.
“That responsible tourism strategy across Colorado, certainly everywhere else, is going to move from responsibility for the place to responsibility for the place plus the people,” Kay said. “So that is how we’re going to weave in the expectation. We expect you to wear a mask. We expect you to maintain 6 feet. It’s all going to be wrapped into that responsible tourism messaging.”
Council member Jeffrey Bergeron asked that the message about masks be crafted in a positive light to encourage the use of facial coverings rather than alienate visitors. Kay said the tourism office is moving toward messaging that says, “Your mask protects me, my mask protects you.” She said the office might start with this messaging to see if it works and hopefully not have to go to “something stronger.”
As far as events, Kay said the tourism office is planning the Breckenridge Oktoberfest as though it would break even fundingwise. She mentioned Munich canceled Oktoberfest and said the tourism office would decide on the local event by early June. If the event does happen, it would be only cans for beer and a “very different looking event.”
Council also discussed the pedestrian-friendly Main Street idea that members brought up at the special meeting last week.
Town Manager Rick Holman said the Breckenridge Reopening Committee is “feverishly” planning for the closing of Main Street to motor vehicles and opening to pedestrian access and open-air restaurant space. He said the committee is on track in the planning process but is still working out some decisions that need to be made, such as whether businesses can use pop-up tents. The plan is to close north Main Street from Watson Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, so Holman said council needs to review parking requirements.
“We do not want to spill out into more public parking areas,” Holman said, noting that the town is losing a lot of parking as it works through the plans. “… I think Tonapah, Upper Exchange, Ice House lot, Tiger Dredge — I think those are critical parking reservoirs that we need to maintain over the summer.”
Holman said he thinks council should be open to businesses expanding into private parking areas, if an arrangement can be made with the property owner, but not into public areas. Council agreed.
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