CRAFT Case Study: Custer County, Pikes Peak Wonders

Located in the Pikes Peak Wonders travel region, the Custer County Tourism Board was awarded a Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Recovery Mentor program by the Colorado Tourism Office in fall 2020 to advance recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of this CRAFT Recovery Mentor program was to engage with the Custer County Tourism Board Advocacy Committee to develop an Advocacy and Community Engagement plan.

The Custer County Tourism Board promotes and develops tourism in Custer County, Colorado for the social and economic prosperity of the residents and businesses of the community.

CRAFT Mentor Program Results

The Custer County Tourism Board was paired with Dave Santucci, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in rural tourism advocacy, destination marketing, stakeholder engagement and tourism product development to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Development of an Advocacy and Community Engagement (ACE) Toolkit for Custer County Tourism Board.
  • Development of a messaging matrix as a part of the ACE Toolkit targeting the three identified audiences for the messaging: Residents, Tourism-Related Businesses, and Elected and Government Officials.
  • Collaborative development of the provided ACE calendar template with monthly or quarterly primary opportunities scheduled to build awareness of the value of tourism amongst the identified audiences.
  • Research to compile the top quantitative measures of tourism from national and state tourism and jobs reports. 
  • Production of an interview with the owners of All the Range Mountaineering and Outdoor Gear, a local tourism-related business, for Custer County Tourism Board to leverage as a qualitative measure for communicating the value of tourism. A transcript of the interview is available in the “Faces of Tourism” project deliverable.
  • Provided guidance to the Custer County Tourism Board on immediate next steps and long-term thinking for the group to build awareness of the value of tourism in Custer County.

“Working with Dave in the CRAFT mentor program really helped us define our advocacy efforts to establish stronger communication channels in our small community. By becoming aware of our strengths and weaknesses, it gave us a solid understanding of the role we play in the economic vitality of our county. We are confident we are now better equipped to make well informed decisions as we move forward." - Deb Adams, Chairperson, Custer County Tourism Board


About CRAFT Recovery Mentor

The Colorado Tourism Office developed the Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) to support communities across the state to integrate tourism into their economic development strategies and develop new visitor experiences aimed at attracting increased traveler spending. 

The CRAFT Recovery Mentor program provides up to 50 hours of mentoring for Colorado tourism partners to advance one or more tourism strategies that bolsters their response to a recent crisis or natural disaster.


Deb Adams
Custer County Tourism Board