Chamber gets financial boost |

Chamber gets financial boost

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The City Council gave the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association $82,250 extra cash this year but raised questions about how money is being spent.

Kate Collins, vice president of marketing and tourism, asked for the funds to be invested in advertising a “regional activities package push” this summer. Television, radio, and online and print newspaper advertising would target day visitors from Vail, Aspen, Summit County and Grand Junction. Some of that would go to the company that owns the Post Independent.

“It’s an investment in the well-being of the activities that we know we need to have a robust tourism economy,” Collins said.

The ads would convey three messages: a family adventure package, an adrenaline package featuring things like rafting and paragliding, and a relaxation package highlighting spas, the vapor caves and the pool.

The chamber’s total budget this year is $725,000. It comes from a contract the chamber holds that gives it 80 percent of Glenwood’s accommodations tax revenues.

Collins asked for funds from the remaining 20 percent, which is used for tourism promotion grants.

“This supplemental appropriation that’s available is a result of the banner tourism years that we had in 2006 and 2007,” she said.

The chamber has pointed to a relatively new central reservations website as one of its recent successes. Collins said previously that the site has done $374,500 in sales in its first year since its launch last summer. But city councilors raised questions about the site using tax dollars to promote businesses that don’t pay taxes to Glenwood.

Councilor Dave Merritt said about seven of 15 hotels being advertised with public funds on the chamber’s central reservations website are hotels outside the city limits that don’t contribute tax dollars to Glenwood.

“We could have greater emphasis at least on the people that are paying for the bed tax,” he said.

Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed, “It’s not that I don’t support this because I do see it as an investment, but I think a lot of us are starting to have a little bit of a concern. … We’re really spending large amounts of public money marketing private businesses that in many cases don’t contribute to the tax receipts of our community.”

Collins said she understands the point, but she added the chamber believes a regional approach to marketing is the best. She said research shows people often come here and do things outside the city, such as visiting the Maroon Bells.

“We believe that we’re enriched by our location and a more regional push,” she said.

Christensen pointed out that the City Council turned down a request to fund Christmas lights and asked if the tourism board would be willing to use some of the extra cash to help fund the lighting.

Collins said, “I think there’s a real sensitivity to taking money that’s been earmarked for advertising and promotion and putting it toward anything else that might be infrastructure.”

Councilor Shelley Kaup said the request for Christmas lights cost about $60,000, and to the extent the lights enhance the tourism experience, she believes the tourism board should at least discuss contributing some of the funding.

The motion to approve the funding passed unanimously. Councilor Dave Johnson was absent.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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