CRAFT Impact Report: Otero County

The city of La Junta was awarded a CRAFT Studio 101 program by the Colorado Tourism Office in fall 2018. The objectives of this CRAFT Studio 101 program were to develop new branding and marketing to drive overnight visitor stays. Program objectives included:

  • support economic development through increased visitation that corresponds to increased lodging and sales tax revenue.
  • enhance tourism product to expand seasons, diversify experiences and inspire visitors to stay longer and spend more.
  • increase collaborative tourism planning beyond La Junta and into destinations across the Canyons and Plains region.

Located in the Canyons & Plains region, La Junta is surrounded by land prime for farming and ranching, making agriculture a primary industry and La Junta typical of a western ranching town. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site draws visitors, as do the nearby Comanche National Grasslands. 

Following their participation in CRAFT Studio 101, La Junta successfully applied for and participated in CRAFT Studio 201.

CRAFT Studio 101 Program Outcomes

A core group of five local tourism champions attended six in-person workshops. The primary focus of the engagement was Adventure Tourism and Cultural & Heritage Tourism.

The Colorado Tourism Office matched La Junta with Amy Cassidy, a CRAFT Facilitator with over 30 years experience in community outreach, education and engagement, as well as strategic planning, marketing and communications, to achieve the following outcomes.


The following occurred as a direct result of the program:

  • The Facilitator delivered a comprehensive report to summarize the program and recommend next steps.
  • Following the successful completion of CRAFT Studio 101, La Junta applied for and was awarded a CRAFT Studio 101 Implementation Grant of $10,000 to build a library of high-quality photos and videos about local highlights for use in advertising, social media and general promotion.
  • Through CRAFT Studio 101, La Junta team members determined that a visitor study would help provide the data for a tourism and branding plan. To increase the volume of visitors, La Junta created a tourism plan and implemented branding and marketing efforts.


The following changes happened after the program took place:

  • Increased partnerships and local coordination, plus more regional collaboration and communication.
  • Developed new tourism products designed to expand season, length of stay, range of activities and visitation.
  • Sustained progress on identified goals, including a defined lodging tax revenue increase.
  • Committed additional resources, including a Project & Technical Assistance Grant to conduct a year-long visitor study.
  • Established sustained collaboration and integration of planning over time.
  • Increased community buy-in to the benefits and potential of tourism and increase community pride as a result of successes.

“We learned so much about the importance of partnering with CTO, the resources available and how to leverage our resources with CTO to go further. Sometimes it is about being at the table and part of the conversation.”
— Pam Denahy, Community Champion, Director of Tourism Events, Visit La Junta

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About CRAFT Studio 101

CRAFT Studio 101 supports destinations that are in the early stages of the place lifecycle by providing tourism education and training to integrate tourism into economic development strategies. Participants receive $10,000 of implementation funding upon completion.


La Junta
(719) 468-1439