Inside the Chamber: Encouraging responsible and respectful tourism |

Inside the Chamber: Encouraging responsible and respectful tourism

Lisa Langer
Inside the Chamber

As the weather is getting warmer, Visit Glenwood Springs is busy collaborating with the local tourism industry in preparation for delivering another successful summer tourism season.

Although our marketing dollars are primarily spent to bolster visitation in less-impactful seasons, a priority objective this year includes a focus on optimizing the positive impacts of the visitor economy to the city, while also enhancing the quality of life of our residents. Please find some updates on new initiatives with which we’ve been working to help achieve these goals.

Listening to our stakeholders

Glenwood Springs residents are vital to our community’s success as a tourism destination. Our residents own the businesses, attractions and amenities that inspire our guests to spend their tourism dollars in our city and create the memories that bring them back. These businesses are also the primary beneficiary of Visit Glenwood Springs’ investments; the increased demand for services by our guests generates activity at our local businesses, supports jobs and drives tax revenue to the city that is invested back into the community.

Last fall, Visit Glenwood Springs partnered with the Colorado Tourism Office through the Restart Destinations Program to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and the closures of I-70 and to identify immediate actions to bolster the recovery of the local tourism industry. As part of the research that was conducted, a resident sentiment survey was distributed to gather input on a variety of tourism-related topics to integrate into the broader findings being captured through the program.

The survey received close to 300 responses from residents from Glenwood Springs and communities to the west and identified areas of success and areas for improvement.

  • The majority of the respondents believe that tourism is important for the local economy and that tourism dollars increase their access to more quality restaurants, events and attractions. This also indicated that the positive impacts from tourism outweigh the negative impacts.
  • The majority of respondents believe that overcrowding by guests is spoiling our natural areas and increasing wildfire danger.
  • Respondents also indicated that the sales tax and lodging tax that tourists pay on their purchases does not adequately compensate for the wear-and-tear they create on our infrastructure and outdoor recreation areas.
  • Respondents expressed a desire for the tourism industry to do more to educate visitors about how to be responsible and respectful during their stay.

Initial actions

The Restart Destinations Program provided Visit Glenwood Springs an opportunity to hear from stakeholders and evaluate strategies to ensure our work maintains the health of the tourism economy while maximizing benefits to the local community. As a result, our team began working on the following new initiatives at the start of 2022:

  • Renamed the Glenwood Springs Tourism Promotion Board to the Tourism Management Board.
  • Researched potential opportunities to increase local capacity and infrastructure to encourage responsible and respectful behaviors (e.g., targeted signage, fully leveraging existing initiatives like the Care for Colorado programs, etc.).
  • Launched the Roaring Fork Valley Destination Alliance in partnership with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Snowmass Tourism, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, and the Tourism Council of Carbondale to collaborate on valleywide solutions related to crisis communications and encouraging responsible and respectful use.

Visit Glenwood Springs, the tourism department of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, receives 85% of the accommodation tax receipts (overnight stays within the city limits). The budget supports onsite visitor services, marketing, management and outreach to media, industry and local, statewide and international partners.

“We appreciate Visit Glenwood Springs’ dedication to advance thoughtful solutions that maintain the health of our tourism industry,” said Jill Corbin, Deputy Director of Destination Stewardship for the Colorado Tourism Office and a Glenwood Springs resident. “These new initiatives are already serving as an example for other Colorado destinations to replicate as our statewide industry continues to recover from COVID-19.”

Visit Glenwood Springs’ staff welcomed learning that overall sentiment for tourism is positive in our community, and our team remains committed to maintaining this by advancing these new initiatives in collaboration with partners within the city, throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and statewide. By taking these steps, we will better educate our guests about ways to experience our environment, attractions and heritage in a responsible and respectful manner, ultimately to sustain the economic activities that allow our local business community to thrive.

Lisa Langer is director of tourism for Visit Glenwood Springs, a department of Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. For more information checkout

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