Ahead of projections | VailDaily.com

Ahead of projections

Richard W. Scharf

The column by Kaye Ferry on Dec. 14, “Second thoughts about the center,” quoted me in way that I believe will give readers a false impression of the new Colorado Convention Center. She implies that a “crisis of sorts” exists regarding bookings. Nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to our bookings, we have six conventions coming to the center in 2005 that could not have met in Denver without the expansion. These conventions will generate $125 million in new spending – dollars that could not have come to Denver without the expansion. This is way ahead of all projections. For all future years, there are currently 135 bookings for the Colorado Convention Center worth $1.4 billion – again, ahead of all projections. In addition, four new hotel projects have been announced for downtown Denver because of the expansion, adding up to 800 new rooms and creating new jobs, new taxes and new spending. We anticipate that we will have no problem generating what the Coopers Lybrand study projected, an incremental $110 million each year. Could we use more money to market the center? Of course. Colorado ranks 32nd in public tourism promotion dollars and is the only state without a permanently funded tourism office. Denver ranks 41st among all convention bureaus in marketing dollars. With more marketing dollars, we could be more successful. But this should in no way imply that there is a “crisis” of bookings. The expansion of the Colorado Convention Center is ahead of projections, creating jobs and stimulating the economy in Denver. Ms. Ferry also quotes Heywood Sanders from the University of Texas, San Antonio, and mentions he has 44,000 references on Google. That is because for more than two decades, Mr. Sanders has been the lone voice speaking out against convention centers. A search would find that he spoke out against the original Colorado Convention Center in the 1980s, saying that it was doomed to fail. Instead, the center was so successful that seven years after it opened there was already a need to expand it. Anybody who understands the convention industry would also understand that a convention center complements a destination but is not the sole driving force behind demand. Customers are looking for a destination that has accessibility, facilities, affordability, safety, service and destination appeal. If Mr. Sanders could evaluate destinations on those criteria, I believe that his approach to the industry would change dramatically. Mr. Sanders has spoken out against every convention center project in America. He has never seen a convention center that he liked and has been predicting the demise of the entire convention industry for 20 years – a time in which this industry has experienced unprecedented growth. I would suggest that rather than listen to a college theorist from Texas, Vail residents might want to listen to experts who have been to Colorado and studied the specific issues relating to Vail and your convention industry. Richard W. Scharf President and CEO Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Animal crueltyI was saddened to read about the horse abuse allegedly committed by the owners of White River Ranch and it is comforting to know that the horses are in caring hands now. While I was reading the article, I thought about other animal cruelty that goes unnoticed or that very few people are aware of.The cruelty I was thinking about happens routinely in the normal course of the daily industry operations of animal factory farming, fur farming, animal experimentation, and animal entertainment to literally billions of animals annually. It is every bit as cruel as what the horses in the article endured and in many cases, significantly worse. This legal, market-supported cruelty is usually well-hidden in rural, remote areas, large windowless buildings, and laboratories throughout the country. It is out of sight, therefore, out of the collective mind of society. If we had to look at it, I’m sure we would demand changes, either with our wallets and pocketbooks, laws, or both.Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the cruelty and alternatives to it. In light of this, I would like to share some of the choices we can make to move in the direction of a cruelty-free and satisfying lifestyle. Most of the items in the list can be found in local supermarkets and organic stores, but some may require a trip to Wild Oats or Whole Foods, two large organic supermarkets in Denver. 1. Reduce meat and dairy consumption, and if or when you do purchase these products, look for free range and organic labels instead of the antibiotic- and hormone-laden products. This step is not only reducing cruelty, it is good for your health. I entirely eliminated animal products from my diet almost two years ago and the results feel great.2. Consider healthy alternatives to meat and dairy, such as vegetarian deli slices, plant-based milk, cheese, and cream, and plant-based ice cream. Some brands are much tastier than others, so try a few brands before making up your mind. Again, your body will thank you.3. Shop for alternatives to fur, leather, and down, including faux-items. There are great looking, warm, fashionable styles available in stores and especially on the Internet.4. Choose botanical (plant-based) shampoos, soaps, conditioners, lotions, and other personal care products that were not tested on animals and have no animal by-products.5. Buy environmentally friendly cleaners, detergents, and other household products that have not been tested on animals.6. Choose entertainment that doesn’t involve animals unless you are familiar with the behind-the-scenes work that goes into training the animals or training the people who perform with animals and are comfortable with such practices.7. Beware of assurances by industries selling animal products that they maintain the “highest animal welfare standards.” The phrase has unfortunately been rendered meaningless through widespread misuse. Some of the worst cruelty cases have gone unnoticed because of misplaced trust in that phrase or similar ones.Some of the above suggestions are easier to implement than others. I recommend implementing each of them at a level that you can maintain over the long run. Do some research of industry animal cruelty and cruelty-free choices on the Internet. Gradually, as you learn more about the alternatives, you may happily change your habits enough to be almost entirely cruelty-free in your purchases and lifestyle while helping to create a market-driven demand away from the kind of cruelty the horses allegedly endured with White River Ranch.Dan CudahyEdwardsTown meetingWe’ve been busy this year at the town of Vail. Ten major redevelopments have been approved and more are on the way. We invite you to join the Vail Town Council and staff to learn more about these and other activities during our annual State of the Town report on Thursday, Dec. 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Donovan Pavilion. The program will include a review of the town’s year-end accomplishments and a look ahead to 2005. While we have much to report at our annual community meeting, we also want to learn what’s on the minds of our stakeholders. Whether you’re a full-time resident, part-time resident, employee, business owner or guest, there’s no better time than now to join us for a discussion on Vail’s future. So mark your calendars and plan to attend on Dec. 30. Also, be sure to take time to enjoy the festive lights and activities throughout the holiday season. Vail is a wonderful and magical place this time of year. It’s a joyful and heart-warming experience we must never take for granted. Happy holidays! Rod SilferVail MayorVail, Colorado