Chamber column: Focus on destination stewardship

Lisa Langer
Inside the Chamber
Lisa Langer

Many tourism-based communities are focusing on destination stewardship with increased attention within the last few years. What does that mean for Glenwood Springs?

Let’s first look at the industry definitions:

  • Stewardship: An ethical value the embodies responsible planning and management of resources.
  • Destination Stewardship: An approach to management and planning that helps balance and meet the needs of a destination and its communities through full public-private collaboration.
  • Sustainable Tourism: Tourism that meets the needs of visitors, industry, the environment, and the host community, while considering the environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts of the present and future.

In Colorado, destination stewardship efforts have been accelerated due to the influx of visitors to mountain towns during the pandemic. Although the steady stream of guests to Glenwood Springs has now begun to wane, largely because people are now able to travel more freely, Visit Glenwood Springs continues to work toward balancing the economic expectations of this critical industry with desired resident quality of life.

Here are some of the initiatives that Visit Glenwood Springs has already taken.

In 2019, pre-pandemic, we partnered with the city and forest service to launch a successful reservation and shuttle service to mitigate the heavy visitation and environmental impacts of large crowds to Hanging Lake. Although the shuttle service has been suspended due to the pandemic, the Grizzly Creek Fire and subsequent debris flows, the reservation system and trailhead facilitation are still in place and continue to receive glowing reviews from those who visit this National Natural Landmark. This model of federal-public-private collaboration has been adapted for Maroon Bells and other outdoor recreation areas in Colorado and beyond.

In 2021, we formed the Roaring Fork Valley Destination Alliance, made up of destination marketing and management organizations including Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. This new alliance was established during the pandemic to foster valley wide responsible visitation messaging and to create better communications around disaster mitigation.

Visit Glenwood Springs incorporates the Care for Colorado (Leave No Trace) messaging in our blogs, social content and on Along with other Colorado destinations and tourism-based industries, we have become a Care for Colorado Stewardship Member. This designation shows the community’s commitment to responsible and respectful recreation and visitation.  

Going forward, Visit Glenwood Springs and the city of Glenwood Springs’ Tourism Management Board is committed to pursuing a destination stewardship plan. While we look at ways to enhance resident quality of life it is imperative to protect and support the tourism industry in our community. Without it, we run the risk of losing our economic vitality along with many of our favorite small businesses, attractions and community members who work in this vital business sector. It’s also important to recognize that taxes brought in by tourists pay for parks, trails and other major city assets and infrastructure.

By taking a holistic approach to destination management, Visit Glenwood Springs looks forward to balancing community visitation and financial stability while protecting the natural environment in which we live and work. For more information about Visit Glenwood Springs, contact To learn more about Colorado’s efforts in destination stewardship, visit

Lisa Langer and Heidi Pankow are the staff of Visit Glenwood Springs, a department of Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. For more information checkout

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