- celebrate the results of the Restart Destinations Program and foster collaboration between Mesa Verde Country tourism stakeholders
- identify opportunities to increase cultural tourism experiences
- explore strategies to increase off-peak season visitation
- align on strategies to increase promotion of local businesses and experiences
Located in the Mountains and Mesas travel region, Mesa Verde Country includes the communities of Cortez, Dolores, Mancos, and Towaoc, located on Ute Mountain Ute tribal lands. Together these locations represent unique launching points to access the area’s rich cultural heritage, vast public lands, scenic byways, and liquid arts that distinguish Montezuma County.
Mesa Verde Country (MVC) serves as the marketing, education, and management advocate on behalf of the City of Cortez and Montezuma County’s tourism industry. MVC has a mission to strengthen the area’s competitive position through the development and promotion of new visitor experiences, and is funded through partial receipt of a City of Cortez 2% lodging tax as well as a 1.9% Montezuma County lodging tax.
MVC was paired with Mimi Mather, President of Coyote Clan, a planning and design firm with experience in destination marketing, product development, and creative communications, to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of consulting.
MVC also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. MVC hosted one core team meeting to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the destination assessment, and guide workshop design.
Destination Assessment and Workshop Results
MVC supported the development of a destination assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, and input from the core team. The findings from the assessment were compiled into a report that informed the design of the full-day workshop.
MVC convened 17 tourism stakeholders on December 1, 2022, for a community visioning and action planning workshop to review the destination assessment and align on priority actions for fostering long-term industry resilience. Workshop participants represented a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including public officials, public land agencies, chambers of commerce, attractions, and retail.
Workshop participants engaged in small group activities to identify cultural tourism storytelling strategies they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry in Montezuma County. Overlapping themes from these discussions include story development strategies, visitor promotion opportunities, and awareness of stories within residents and frontline staff workers.
As a result of the workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of an action plan. Key priorities include:
- compile stories that enhance sense of place
- promote MVC’s stories
- advance tourism workforce
CRAFT Mentor Results
Following the workshop, 100 hours of consulting were provided to conduct the activities listed below. The purpose of this year’s CRAFT Mentor project was to compile and promote stories that enrich the tourism experience and build awareness of Montezuma County’s rich heritage.
Project objectives included:
- facilitate a call with Visit Durango to share ideas about collaborating with indigenous partners
- compile and re-package existing story content
- research and draft story content for MVC to develop a 2023 content calendar
- share draft narratives of Canyon of the Ancients National Monument stories with BLM
- develop an email newsletter template for tourism partners
- build the MVC story list and identify topics for future content development
MVC achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:
- compilation of 25 stories featuring a short description, an image, and related tourism experiences, as well as strategies for story distribution and development
- email template that includes outreach strategy and draft content
- list of additional stories and topics for future content development
“Our invitation to participate in the Reimagine Destinations Program gave us inspiration, built our momentum and was a true force multiplier for everything we are trying to do here at Mesa Verde Country!”
— Brian Bartlett, Mesa Verde Country
About Reimagine Destinations Program
The Reimagine Destinations Program supports Colorado tourism destinations to foster long-term industry resilience. Awarded destinations receive a destination assessment, a full-day workshop, 100 hours of consulting, and a $20,000 creative asset production shoot from the Colorado Tourism Office. This program was made possible by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.