Colorado mountain towns say they can’t handle any more tourists amid labor, housing crises |

Colorado mountain towns say they can’t handle any more tourists amid labor, housing crises

Colorado tourism cheerleaders hasten their transition from destination marketing to management as resort town locals call for more housing and less promotion

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun

DENVER — Angst over tourism is growing as mountain communities emerge from crowd-restricting pandemic closures. Overlapping waves of visitors and new residents are amplifying an unprecedented labor shortage and housing crunch. And with that seasonal distress comes a growing call to silence the statewide promotion of Colorado as a vacation wonderland.

Tourism is in the crosshairs in mountain towns in Colorado while state economic development champions are offering a total of $10 million to organizers who bring groups and events to the state.

Vacationers are pouring into Colorado resort communities, and overworked and underhoused locals feel the crowds are pushing their valleys beyond capacity. Resort town tourism leaders, who long ago began transitioning away from pure marketing toward resource-protecting destination stewardship, are adjusting their messages to not just the visitors, but also locals.

And many of the state’s 100-plus Destination Marketing Organizations — or DMOs — are finding themselves defending the role of tourism in economies that were created by vacationing visitors.

“Tourism, like any industry, should be evolving, and I think the evolution now is how do we amplify the positive things about tourism and mitigate the negative impacts that come with it. That becomes the new role of the DMMO,” said Lucy Kay, a Colorado tourism industry veteran who directs the Breckenridge Tourism Office, which a few years ago rebranded itself as a destination marketing management organization, or DMMO. “Where do we draw that balance?”

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