Carbondale Corner: Collaboration is key to Carbondale tourism success | PostIndependent.com
Andrea Stewart

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Carbondale Corner: Collaboration is key to Carbondale tourism success

Andrea Stewart

Tourism is one of Colorado's biggest economic drivers. According to 2016 data from the state's Tourism Office, 2016 saw a massive 28 percent increase in visitor spending in the mountain regions over the previous year.

Carbondale also experienced an increase in visitor spending: Last month, the Tourism Council of Carbondale (TCC), an entity of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, announced its annual lodging tax revenue figures for 2016, which exceeded $100,000 for the first year ever, representing a 17 percent increase over 2015, and up 109 percent from 2011. Similarly, the Town of Carbondale reported a 2.36 percent increase in sales tax for the first quarter of 2017. Visitor spending contributes to lodging and sales tax, supporting Carbondale's business community and providing jobs.

Carbondale's 485-plus chamber members and local small businesses benefit from this economic stimulation. The TCC is funded by the 2 percent lodging tax, and that money is used primarily for the promotion, development and marketing of tourism in Carbondale, including the support of our newly redesigned website, http://www.carbondale.com, database marketing, social media, traditional media relations to secure press coverage and other initiatives.

One of TCC's many strategies for 2017 is to position Carbondale as a four-season destination. The TCC saw a surge in winter visitors, in part due to an increase in new downtown lodging offerings that entice ski visitors from Sunlight Mountain and Aspen Snowmass.

Visitor experience is also vital, and the TCC will continue to focus its attention on lesser-known treasures of Carbondale, as well as support small businesses, new and seasoned. The TCC has also witnessed an increase in local agritourism, with new farm stays and tours, plus farm-to-table experiences that bring Carbondale visitors closer to its food and beverage sources in a creative and engaging way.

Certified as a Creative District via the Colorado Creative Industries, Carbondale now, more than ever, celebrates and highlights its local creative entities and businesses. Carbondale's Creative District has become a remarkably viable economic asset for our mountain town, offering visitors a taste of culture and creativity in a rural mountain setting, all while partnering with Carbondale's vital business community.

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Last fall, the Carbondale chamber, Tourism Council of Carbondale, and Creative District teamed up to create informational kiosks, stand-alone iPads that offer an interactive user experience to learn more about Carbondale's dining, lodging, recreation, businesses, Creative District and more. Over the past two years, many meetings, sketches and drafts were tested to make this project come full circle. It's a great example of Carbondale's community collaboration.

This fall, the Carbondale chamber's Annual Business Conference will feature "The Art of Business and the Business of Art." This event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 20, and will focus on Carbondale's Creative District, outdoor recreation and more.

The Carbondale chamber is a stand-alone organization that is committed to working together with businesses and the community. We provide leadership, education and support for our members in order to make the Carbondale area a more vital and dynamic place to live, work and visit. The chamber is nonpartisan and treats its 485-plus members equally, supporting them through business-to-business communications, educational opportunities, marketing, and in a variety of creative ways to help foster our members' continued success.

Andrea Stewart is Carbondale chamber executive director and director of the Tourism Council of Carbondale and has been with the chamber since 2008.