Caitlin Rowcrow@gjfreepress.com

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May 24, 2012
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The new face of Grand Junction tourism

Already successfully branded as Colorado's Wine County, Grand Valley tourism seeks to expand its reach even further with a new push - to be known for its extraordinary recreation and culinary options.Hiking, biking, rafting, golfing, dining - all the "-ings." "It's all about diversity and having lots of choices," Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau (GJVCB) division manager Barbara Bowman said.Now, Bowman's big tourism vision has fresh energy behind it. The new marketing and PR coordinator, Mistalynn Meyeraan, said she's all about promoting Grand Junction as a recreation destination. Her ideas for local tourism incorporate an active-lifestyle focus, and cycling will "absolutely" be part of it. It will combine "everything that we, as locals, don't take for granted," Meyeraan said. "It's not just about tourism. It's about how great the community lifestyle is. ... It's a push for new recreation advertising and awareness, because it's here."Meyeraan, a native to the Western Slope, most recently worked in Colorado's ski industry as Winter Park Resort's communications manager. She joined Bowman's team this month.

Like most tourism destinations, Grand Junction took a big hit when the national economy trended downward four years ago. Bowman said "stabilizing, rebuilding and regaining" its market share is GJVCB's top goal in 2012. Bowman will also seek new ways to attract a larger segment of international travelers flying into Denver."We're coming off a three-year recession," Bowman said. "We had to cut $600,000 (from our budget) in 2011."While revenues haven't bounced back completely, Bowman said she remains hopefully optimistic as 2012 numbers are reported - GJ's lodging tax revenues are already up 6 percent year-to-date. Even with the boost, she said local tourism revenues have so far only returned to 2007 levels.Rimrock Adventures co-owner Travis Baier said he believes a refocused marketing effort will only help put Grand Junction on the map as a big recreation destination. "It's going to be great for our business," he said.Fruita-based Rimrock Adventures organizes a variety of rafting trips, and it relies heavily on recreation tourism for its customers."It's going to help the whole economy because tourism brings in a lot of dollars to the valley," Baier said. "... Tourism is one of the main industries in Grand Junction, so I think it's only natural that they focus on that."Grand Junction has so much to offer," he added.One way to increase future tax dollars would be to attract more tourists in April and May, Meyeraan said. It's when Grand Valley flowers start to blossom and it's also the start of GJVCB promotions to destinations still covered in snow.Bowman and Meyeraan both say they hope an expanded tourism vision will bring more groups to the area. And, they said an investment in new technologies will play a larger role in attracting new business.

According to Meyeraan, the GJVCB is undergoing a "total website overhaul" to be launched in late summer or early fall. The new website will feature many new facets, including a "bike scene" boost, big changes to its "meetings & groups" page, and easier navigation for visitors seeking local business information. There will also be a move toward improved, web-based education about Grand Valley gems, like the Colorado National Monument.Meyeraan additionally said she'll be using an integrated approach to marketing tourism opportunities, including an increased new media presence on Facebook and Twitter. While Meyeraan acknowledged it may be difficult in the beginning to engage readers in new media realms, she'll be approaching the challenge creatively to make it fun.Mobile access to the GJVCB's website was also an investment, Bowman said.For more information about Grand Valley tourism, visit www.visitgrandjunction.com.


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The Post Independent Updated May 29, 2012 12:13PM Published May 24, 2012 06:27PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.