Destination management plan sets goals to steer Breckenridge’s future
Imagine what Breckenridge might be a decade from now.
What does the town look like? How does it function and balance quality of life issues for the people who live here against boosting experiences for the tourists who comprise the lifeblood of the local economy?
Research shows rapid growth in the travel industry is overwhelming iconic destinations like Breckenridge, not just across the U.S., but worldwide. All that growth is causing considerable friction between residents, governments, tourism organizations and the tourists themselves. Left unmanaged, the rise in tourism can undermine residents’ quality of life and erode visitors’ opinions of a destination, according to officials at the Breckenridge Tourism Office.
With this in mind, the BTO began soliciting community feedback over two years ago, and that feedback has made its way into a new destination management plan, crafted with help from InterVISTAS Consulting and NEXTFactor Enterprises over the last year for a little more than $100,000.
On Tuesday, Breckenridge Town Council unanimously ratified the plan and the four strategic goals detailed within it, including delivering a balanced year-round economy by 2024, fiercely protecting Breckenridge’s character, having fewer cars on the roads and making the town a leader in mountain environmentalism.
The destination management plan adopted Tuesday night by Breckenridge Town Council details four strategic goals. They are as follows.
1. Deliver a balanced year-round economy driven by destination tourism by 2024 — Expand initiatives to increase overnight visitor dispersal, spend and length of stay across a wider breadth of calendar months and the destination itself to ensure a more consistent and diversified visitor economy.
2. Elevate and fiercely protect Breckenridge’s authentic character and brand, or its hometown feel and friendly atmosphere — Ensure that locals and visitors are always aware that the most valuable asset for Breckenridge is the authenticity of the town and the character of the people. Much of that is based on the fact that a high percentage of people who work in Breckenridge live within the town limits.
3. More boots and bikes, fewer cars — Develop a comprehensive series of initiatives to get people out of their cars as much as possible to maintain the outdoor quality of life that both locals and visitors are craving, as well as minimize the environmental impacts in the region. The goal is 10% fewer vehicles in the next 3-5 years.
4. Establish Breckenridge at the leading edge in mountain environmental stewardship and sustainable practices — Expand the dialogue among locals and visitors about how to protect the fragility of the mountain landscape in the face of increasing challenges. Execute the Summit Community Climate Action Plan, promote Colorado-adopted Leave No Trace messaging and develop a range of new responsible tourism programs.
Source: Breckenridge Destination Management Plan
The plan is designed to help steer Breckenridge’s future over the next 10 years. Following completion of the 2016-17 community perception survey in which more than 1,100 people responded, the plan comes from more than 250 interactions with individuals in the community done through one-on-one interviews, group sessions and large-scale town halls.
“(The plan) really speaks to the passion people have about this place and why it’s so important to protect it.”
“I think the level of engagement we’ve had on both of these projects has been astounding,” said Lucy Kay, president and CEO of the BTO.
With so many locals eager to help craft the plan, the good news is the goals produced by it dovetail nicely with many of the initiatives already taken by the town, the consultants said.
“I hope we have the courage and discipline to follow it,” added Councilman Dick Carleton. “It’s a great road map.”
Each goal highlighted in the plan comes with additional initiatives to help accomplish the primary objectives, as well as details about the people and organizations responsible for implementing them.
The overarching idea is not to grow visitor volumes, but to use tourism as a catalyst for providing more opportunities for the people here to shape Breckenridge’s future, both by protecting its character and brand, and by finding ways to weave new layers into it.
“We consider it a fluid document,” Kay said. She expects it will be updated periodically with council’s approval as completed initiatives are crossed off and new ones come into play.
Currently, the plan mentions building on the destination experience by continuing to diversify off-season opportunities, boosting culinary and cultural offerings, and developing communities in town like Airport Road and Block 11. Moreover, the plan suggests finding ways to better disperse visitors throughout the community.
The plan also advises that investing in technology and intellectual capital could help spread out the local economy, support local businesses and improve connections within the community.
The continued development of sustainability initiatives is another consideration — as is experimenting with modern co-living and micro-housing designs — in addition to more support for local nonprofits.
In terms of mobility and transit, the expansion of transportation networks for Breckenridge workers who live in neighboring towns could improve the situation, as well as converting aging condos into workforce housing and exploring how autonomous systems might increase efficiencies.
Per the plan, the biggest challenges facing Breckenridge could come in the forms of aligning visions and priorities in the community; shortages in the workforce, housing and health care; and managing destination tourism against problems like event fatigue or parking and traffic congestion, which have reached a critical point.
“I think if there’s one big takeaway here, the solution is dialogue — It’s continual dialogue,” Kay said.
The BTO is working on rolling out the new destination management plan in detail in the near future, though a copy of the document was included in Tuesday night’s meeting packet for town council.
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