Summit misses out on state tourism grants
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Colorado Tourism Office awarded $50,575 in matching funds to six of Colorado’s travel regions – but the Northwest Region, which includes Summit County, won’t see a dime.
Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) officials created the Travel Region Matching Grant Program so the state’s various regions could conduct regional tourism marketing. Summit, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Jackson, Grand, Eagle, Pitkin, Mesa and Routt counties are in the Northwest Region.
Receiving state funds is contingent on obtaining matching grants – something the Northwest Region was unable to do this year. Therefore, the region didn’t submit an application, said Glenwood Springs Chamber marketing director Lori Hogan, who was heading up the Northwest Region’s efforts.
“Even if we did, we wouldn’t have been able to get that much money,” she said. “Last year, it was all we could do to get a minimal amount (of matching funds) from the major players in the region.”
She said the major destination resorts in the region opted to contribute to the marketing effort. Hogan declined to say which resorts opted out.
“We have so many large players who don’t see the benefit of $250 or $500,” Hogan said. “It was basically a lack of participation and interest on the region’s part.”
The CTO, which this year was allocated $5.5 million to market the state, uses its funds for national print and television marketing, to fund welcome centers, to encourage Coloradans to visit places in their own state and provides matching funds for regional marketing.
Grants doled out to other regions ranged from $4,250 for the Front Range region to $16,325 to the Southeast and Central Region.
That amount of money won’t go far to market the diverse Northwest region, Hogan said.
“We’ve got everything from major ski areas to small towns like Craig, Meeker, Dinosaur,” she said. “We’ve got high-
mountain ski areas, desert areas, national monuments, national parks. It’s too difficult to throw us into one region.”
Corry Mihm, Breckenridge Resort Chamber executive director, agreed.
“The effectiveness of it was somewhat questionable,” she said. “The region is so diverse. How do you sell Dinosaur, Breckenridge, Grand Junction and everyone else in one fell swoop? No one really picked up and ran with it.”
Some tourism officials believe the regions don’t get a big enough return on the small amounts the state allocates and feel the money would be better spent if reinvested and spent on the state as a whole, Hogan said.
“I know some in our region felt that way, because for us, it didn’t work that well,” Mihm said. “It’s almost like trying to pull together resources for the sake of spending it just because someone else is spending it, too.”
Last year, the Northwest Region received $5,000 to update and maintain the Northwest travel region Web site (NorthwestColorado.org) and to advertise on Colorado.com (CTO’s Web site), said Stefanie Dalgar, public relations and industry specialist for the CTO. No Summit County resorts or businesses, however, are listed on the site.
Hogan said the regional Web site will continue to operate and that individual towns and resorts can update their information on it, but the Northwest Region will have no funds to promote it.
Next year, Hogan said, the region might consider applying for matching grants to send press releases and enhance the Web site.
Other statewide grants awarded included $3,000 each to Tour Colorado, Colorado River Outfitters Association, Destination Colorado, the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association and Colorado Music Alliance. The state awarded $2,000 to the Colorado Trains Adventure Committee and $1,000 to the Distinctive Inns of Colorado.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Front Range Region: $4,250
Northeast Region: $10,000
Southwest Region: $10,000
Denver Metro: $10,000
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