Reimagine Destinations Success Story: Visit Estes Park


Visit Estes Park was approved to participate in the Reimagine Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2022. Program objectives included: 

  • advance strategies that foster a resilient year-round tourism economy
  • further establish the case for the value of tourism funding in Estes Park
  • build awareness of tourism as a community shared value 

Located in the Denver and Cities of the Rockies travel region, Estes Park is the basecamp for Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and is home to a diverse range of outdoor recreation, wildlife, and scenic assets that surround a mountain community built on independent charm and hospitality.

Visit Estes Park (VEP) is the destination organization responsible for balancing marketing local assets and managing visitor experience in a way that optimizes tourism’s benefit to resident quality of life. VEP is accredited by Destinations International’s Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) and receives a portion of the funding collected through a 5.5% Local Marketing District tax.

VEP was paired with David Holder and Tina Valdecanas, principals at Clarity of Place, a destination consulting firm with experience in destination marketing, organizational efficiency, and tourism development, to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a half-day community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of free to VEP.

VEP also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. VEP hosted one core team meeting to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the Restart Destinations Program, and guide workshop design.  

Destination Assessment and Workshop Results 

VEP supported the development of a destination assessment consisting of background research 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.

VEP convened 49 tourism stakeholders on December 7, 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 local land managers, restaurants, attractions, accommodations, restaurants, retail, VEP board members, and VEP staff.

Workshop participants received an update on the implementation of the timed entry permit system in RMNP. National Park Service representatives provided an overview of how visitation to the park has become more manageable since the introduction of the timed entry permits system. They also shared how adjustments to the timed entry permit system strategy have enhanced its effectiveness.

The workshop then shifted to a presentation on the findings from VEP’s participation in the Restart Destinations Program and its increasing focus on advancing off-peak tourism during the winter. The remainder of the workshop focused on building awareness of the upcoming Frozen Dead Guy Days event in March 2023 and understanding how VEP can collaborate with the Estes Park tourism industry to make the event a success.

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
  • advance off-peak tourism opportunities
  • encourage responsible visitation

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 business intelligence by organizing and analyzing tourism-related research to help inform future decisions and report on investments made through the Estes Park Local Marketing District.

Project objectives included:

  • conduct an assessment of VEP’s research strategy and provide recommendations for enhancing data collection that can guide tourism-related decision making 
  • provide data resources connecting a successful tourism economy to larger community goals, especially as it relates to attainable and affordable housing and childcare
  • provide peer-to-peer training to VEP on topics that includes tourism-related research strategies, organizational strategy, community engagement

Visit Estes Park achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:

  • development of an inventory of tourism-related research for VEP
  • strategic guidance on ways that VEP can continue to bolster its role within its community and implement activities that support adoption of the 2022 VEP Strategic Plan
CRAFT Recovery assistance for Tourism

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.