- convene local tourism stakeholders to gather input and align on the future of tourism in Saguache County
- increase local support and engagement with tourism-related initiatives
- identify opportunities to inspire responsible travel to and within Saguache County throughout the year
Located in the Mystic San Luis Valley travel region, Saguache County offers its visitors epic 100-mile views positioned between the soaring peaks of the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Although the primary communities of Center, Crestone, and Saguache offer a unique personality, they each share insights into the history of the area’s native tribes and its Hispanic and European settlers and explorers. Signature visitor experiences include hot springs, wellness retreats, access to wilderness and wildlife areas, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
The Saguache County Tourism Council (SCTC) is the destination marketing and management organization for Saguache County. Funded through a 1.9% county lodging tax, a voluntary tourism committee oversees an annual budget of approximately $150,000 to advance tourism strategies throughout the county.
SCTC was paired with Sarah-Jane Johnson of RoadMap Consulting, a sustainable tourism consultancy with experience in destination development, marketing, and management, to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of consulting to SCTC.
SCTC also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. SCTC hosted two core team meetings 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
SCTC 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.
SCTC convened 35 tourism stakeholders on October 12, 2022 at the Saguache County Road & Bridge building 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 county and town government, destination stewardship non-profit organizations, lodging, dining, and retail businesses.
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 Saguache County. Overlapping themes from these discussions included identifying tourism development opportunities, looking at ways to encourage responsible and respectful use, optimizing existing marketing strategies, and championing the value of tourism throughout Saguache County.
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
- encourage responsible and respectful use
- develop and enhance visitor experience
- promote local businesses and experiences
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 provide administrative support to increase SCTC’s capacity as a destination organization, increase local support and engagement with tourism-related initiatives, and identify opportunities to encourage responsible and respectful use throughout Saguache County in ways that align with local community values.
Project objectives included:
- prepare SCTC to establish a brand identity that showcases Saguache County’s community values and leverages the findings from the destination assessment
- advise the SCTC on ways it can secure dedicated capacity to advance its work plan
- develop a Do San Luis Valley Right campaign to encourage responsible and respectful use that also showcases Saguache County’s community values
- develop a community engagement strategy
SCTC achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:
- draft Request for Proposal (RFP) document to engage a marketing and branding agency for the development of a new destination brand for Saguache County
- tools to support the SCTC organizational structure and capacity that include position descriptions, SCTC committee member roles and responsibilities, organization structure, and tourism contractor work plan
- Do San Luis Valley Right campaign assets that include a customized logo and approved messaging for use on digital and print assets
- community engagement strategy that includes presentation materials and an engagement framework
“The Reimagine Destinations program provided high-level guidance from a talented team of tourism experts, and resulted in actionable priorities that will be implemented to increase the value of our tourism efforts in Saguache County”
-Ameille Warner, Saguache County Tourism Council
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.