- advance strategies that foster a year-round regional tourism economy
- identify opportunities to bolster the regional tourism workforce
- identify strategies that build regional awareness of the value of tourism
- advance activities that develop and enhance visitor experience
Colorado’s Central Plains (CCP) comprises Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, and Cheyenne counties in Eastern Colorado. Situated between Denver and the Kansas border, this destination is an important gateway for visitors entering into Colorado by passenger vehicle. The area’s rich cultural history is best showcased through the Our Journey museums located throughout the four counties. More recently, visitors are engaging in an emerging set of birding and agritourism experiences.
The Prairie Development Corporation (PDC) is the division of the East Central Council of Governments (ECCOG) that is tasked with coordinating tourism activities across the four counties. Specifically, PDC works collaboratively with all of the communities within the counties to address issues affecting east central Colorado that one county or municipality lacks the resources to address on its own. Because there is no formal destination marketing or management organization that represents all of the counties, PDC has been leading this work through CCP.
CCP was paired with Dan Moore, CEO of Pandion Consulting & Facilitation, a travel industry consultancy with experience in tourism development, staff training, and business consulting, to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of consulting to PDC.
CCP also convened a core team of tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. Three core team meetings were held 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
CCP supported the development of a destination assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, a resident sentiment survey, a tourism stakeholder survey, 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.
CCP convened 13 tourism stakeholders on November 29, 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, historical society members, and staff from museums, accommodations, and the Limon Chamber of Commerce.
Workshop participants engaged in a small group activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry in CCP. Overlapping themes from these discussions included diversifying visitor experiences related to agritourism and birding, increasing community support and understanding of tourism, and fostering collaboration across the four-county region.
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:
- champion the value of tourism
- develop and enhance visitor experience
- foster regional collaboration
CRAFT Mentor Results
Following the workshop, 100 hours of consulting were provided to conduct the activities listed below. The purpose of this CRAFT Mentor project was to advance strategies that foster a year-round regional tourism economy and identify strategies that build regional awareness of the value of tourism.
Project objectives included:
- conduct outreach with Colorado birding stakeholders and develop the production materials for an informational session that builds awareness of existing birding opportunities in Eastern Colorado and increases engagement and participation with regional tourism stakeholders around birding
- compile birding content for CCP that highlights opportunities within the four-county region
- provide recommendations for updating the organizational structure for CCP
- develop an informational flyer with facts about the benefits of tourism to distribute to elected officials, residents, and business owners at town halls and events
Colorado’s Central Plains achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:
- production materials for a CCP birding informational session
- consumer content that educates visitors about birding in CCP, including signature species, places to view birds, and safety tips
- recommendations to update CCP’s organizational structure that outline its leadership structure and the core functions of its committee members
- informational flyer about the value of tourism in CCP that can be shared with elected officials, residents, and business owners at local town halls and events
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.