Opinion: Tourism in our valley
GJ Free Press Columnist
Tourism is one of our key economic resources in Colorado. We live in an amazing state that has some of the highest mountains, best ski resorts and most unique landscapes in the nation.
In Grand Junction we are blessed by an abundance of trails and other outdoor opportunities. We have world-class mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, off-road areas, and easy access to world-class ski resorts. We are within easy driving distance to eastern Utah and the rest of Colorado. We have some amazing resources that allow us to be a premier tourism destination.
For me, having recently moved from Summit County where I lived and worked at just about 9,000 ft., the fact that I just did a trail run in shorts and a T-shirt in February is an amazing thing. We offer something that is rare in Colorado — a warm winter and a true spring.
Being able to walk out your door and go play is one of the reasons why we see visitors coming to our city. From a local business standpoint we should strive to bring in even more of this audience. Tourists spend money. They are on vacation and are here to have fun. They have to buy hotel rooms, meals and will pay for tours, events and other activities.
This leads to the question, what can we do to bring in more tourists?
That question has been the core of the Visitor and Convention Bureau. About a month or so ago I was able to attend their first annual breakfast banquet. It was interesting to see what they were working on and their focus. From their perspective the best way to draw in visitors is to focus on the international tourist.
My question to them is, if people from our own local region don’t come here, why would an international tourist? They have the choice of going to Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Moab and Durango. What makes us compete with those areas? If we look closer at our competition we will quickly realize that our best option is to look to Moab and Durango to see how we can improve.
Both Moab and Durango have easy access to national parks. Both areas have done an amazing job of promoting their parks and their activities. For Grand Junction we just have a national monument, albeit one of the most breathtaking places in the state, but still it is a monument. Many people, especially the international visitors we supposedly want to attract, don’t understand what a monument is. To many it is a statue, or a building. Why wouldn’t we want one of our best assets to be a national park?
There would be some costs and it would take some work. But I am sure it is something that we can make happen.
I would be interested in hearing from our readers, what are your thoughts on this? Feel free to send me your response, in the form of a letter to the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Rogers in the general manager of the GJ Free Press.
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