Opinion: Colorado’s Grand Valley significantly impacted by tourism
Free Press Opinion Columnist
While working the start of the 2015 Ride the Rockies event held in Grand Junction, a participant came up to me and asked where he could buy cycling shoes. He had packed them neatly in his bag, which was locked inside his car. His car was in Denver. It was later in the evening, the day before the ride began, and luckily a shop was still open. We sent a very relieved Grand Junction visitor on his way to spend money at a small local business. It made me think of the many intricate details I see in special events hosted in our wonderful valley, which many may never think of or realize.
The work behind the scenes and the economic impact of special events often go overlooked. Every week there are pages of events to click through on the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau’s website, http://www.visitgrandjunction.com, an indication of how much there is to do here. The variety of events and magnitude of the production is astounding.
I also commend the dedication that members of our community demonstrate by working on special events. There is a reality to the meetings, route discussions, entertainment auditions, permitting, liquor laws, signage, location scouting … and did I mention meetings? Literally hundreds of hours are put into the planning stages for just one event by countless people behind the scenes that never receive recognition.
As an example, for the sixth time in 30 years, Colorado’s great road cycling event returned to Grand Junction and surrounding communities as the start city in 2015. Ride the Rockies represents a remarkable tradition for the road cycling community. It additionally provided me the opportunity to market our destination as a mecca for the perfect weekend getaway to an ideal demographic (average age, household income).
Approximately 2,000 riders, along with their friends and families, began to arrive at Colorado Mesa University on Saturday, June 13, and stayed through Monday, June 15. Over 700 hotel rooms per night were booked. Riders represented all 50 states and 17 different countries. It took nine months to pull every single detail together by the local organizing committee. There were over 100 local volunteers, not counting the staff from several local agencies across the valley.
With the influx of riders and Ride the Rockies staff, the economic impact of this prestigious event is over $500,000 to the greater Grand Junction area. The significance of this event did not stop there, nor did it fade away when the rear wheels headed over the Grand Mesa. The Visitor & Convention Bureau, along with Colorado Mesa University, were able to showcase our community to a group of participants that are likely to return. The traditional media and social media coverage provided a taste of our beautiful scenery and will act as a lure for those who were following the ride at home.
I imagine it would have been difficult to ride 464 miles over seven days in sandals. So, I thank the shop that was open late for Ride the Rockies and thank the people behind each event, which creates another opportunity to market tourism in Grand Junction.
If you are planning an event and need help, ask about the Special Events Taskforce that is led by the team at the Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Mistalynn Meyeraan is the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, a division of the City of Grand Junction. Native to western Colorado, she began her marketing career at a newspaper in Arizona and found her calling in tourism while working the ski and bike resort industry in Colorado. The Grand Valley became home in 2012. Meyeraan is passionate about creative marketing techniques and partnerships, traveling and outdoor activities. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-244-1480. To learn more about the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, visit http://www.visitgrandjunction.com.
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Another Glenwood Springs City Council election has passed, but we doubt about two-thirds of Glenwood residents even noticed — certainly not based on the pathetic 31% turnout in balloting that concluded April 6.