An invitation to the state is an invite to Vail Valley |

An invitation to the state is an invite to Vail Valley

Rich tenBraak
Vail Valley Partnership

“Let’s talk Colorado.” This is one of the many ad slogans the Colorado Tourism Office is using on the national level as part of its $19 million annual budget, a more than $10 million increase from years previous, yet our budget still trails behind states like Florida, Nevada and California.

In fact, Colorado ranks 26th nationally when it comes to marketing the state. And did you know tourism is Colorado’s second largest income-driver, contributing 10 percent to the state’s overall economy? The ski/snowboard industry falls into this bucket, one reason all of us in the Vail Valley should be educated and informed on the tourism office’s use of its $19 million muscle to compete for visitors and tourist dollars.

This week, I had the pleasure of learning more about the Colorado Tourism Office’s marketing and public-relations efforts when an office representative visited us to present the 2007 strategy. Just two years ago, tourism represented an $8.2 billion industry for the state. Those dollars generated about $643 million in state and local tax dollars. It is estimated that these tax dollars save each Colorado resident about $140 a year in additional taxes. So tourism not only pays us in business but also saves us in taxes.

I’ve always been pro-tourism, as the economic health of the overall community resides on commerce and it is a fact that our guests help drive this exchange. Which is why it is important for all us to go about our day-to-day lives with a “customer conscience” ” meaning the next time you are speaking to an out-of-town guest, thank them for visiting and invite them back soon. The Vail Valley Partnership’s Lodging Quality Assurance and Platinum Service Program are two programs designed to heighten this customer awareness, ensuring the customer experience is always an exceptional one.

Being in tune with what the tourism office is doing to promote Colorado is also a way to stay looped in to the latest travel and tourism trends. For example, “going green” is very popular these days. More and more people are realizing their behavior impacts the environment and are changing behaviors in light of the fact.

“Environmental issues are one of the hottest issues within the travel industry right now,” said Bill Connors, executive director of the National Business Travel Association.

Proof of green behavior? According to a recent article in Tourism Review, “the online hotel discounter has launched a filter to search for green hotels. A survey commissioned by and conducted by Market Tool’s Zoomerang polling service has shown that 63 percent of those surveyed would pay a little more to rent a hybrid vehicle or stay at a “green” hotel and that 51 percent of the surveyed Americans feel the tourism industry in the United States is not environmentally friendly.”

Many properties in the valley are doing “green deeds,” too. These efforts include recycling programs or special lodging packages interwoven with a “green” theme that encourage guests to be environment-friendly during their stay. And I congratulate Vail Resorts for its push to use wind power as an energy source.

We at the Partnership can leverage our relationship with the Colorado Tourism Office to communicate the wonderful initiatives lodges, restaurants, retailers and other merchants are doing to lure guests to our destination. A guest to our destination is also a guest of the state’s. As the tourism office welcomes a Vail Valley guest, we are in turn thankful for the office’s national invitation to visit the state.

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