Inside the Chamber column: Glenwood Springs — built on tourism
February 3, 2019
Glenwood Springs has been built on tourism. From the foresight of its earliest visionaries, Isaac Cooper and Walter Devereux, to the present-day Glenwood Hot Springs Pool board and Glenwood Caverns owners Steve and Jeannie Beckley, this community has grown from a mecca for the well-off to an international destination.
The most accurate indicator of how tourism has benefited the economic growth of Glenwood Springs is the evolution of the city's accommodations tax. This pass-through tax on room nights within the city limits was established in 1985 by a Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association-led committee that garnered support from the lodges within the city limits and through a vote of the citizenry. Its purpose is to promote Glenwood Springs as a visitor destination for the economic benefit of the community. In 2000, this tax was increased from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent and no longer sunsets. As of November 2018, the Glenwood Springs lodging tax receipts had increased 8.76 percent cumulatively over 2017's figures. That is a 28 percent increase over the benchmark year of 2008.
The Tourism Promotion Fund, with oversight by the city of Glenwood Springs' Tourism Promotion Board, is managed by the GSCRA's tourism promotion department, also known as Visit Glenwood Springs. The tourism promotion department receives 92.5 percent of the overall tax collected from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the year prior to budget for tourism promotion, visitor center operations and administrative overhead. A tourism promotion marketing plan and budget are presented to the city of Glenwood Springs annually by the city's Tourism Promotion Board and staff.
With a staff of two using frugal marketing tactics, over the past seven years the GSCRA's tourism promotion department has effectively extended the tourism season from a heavy summer-centric season into both spring and fall shoulder seasons. Although there has been success in lengthening the tourist season in Glenwood Springs, the year-round average occupancy rate is still less than 65 percent. This indicates that Glenwood Springs has room to grow its midweek and shoulder-season visitation. In 2019, the marketing plan aims to continue promotional efforts that extend summer to shoulder seasons, while stepping up advertising for winter visitation.
The Glenwood Springs tourism community continues to build as new amenities are added to existing businesses. The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park will open its new, high-efficiency Glenwood Gondola this spring. The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is constructing a whitewater adventure river that will open, along with other aquatic features, this summer. The Hotel Colorado is undergoing an extensive remodel of its meeting and banquet spaces. While the community continues to build, the GSCRA's tourism promotion staff is committed to its ongoing efforts to promote this destination for the overall economic growth and benefit of Glenwood Springs.
Lisa Langer is director of tourism promotion at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. For more information about tourism promotion in Glenwood Springs, email Lisa@glenwoodchamber.com or visit http://www.visitglenwood.com.
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