Restart Destinations Success Story: City of Fruita and Town of Palisade

The communities of Fruita and Palisade were approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • advance cross-destination communication and collaboration
  • identify opportunities to encourage responsible visitation
  • understand and improve upon resident sentiment towards tourism 

Located in the Mountains and Mesas travel region, the City of Fruita and the Town of Palisade collaboratively promote themselves to visitors as the "bookends" of the Grand Valley. Already a well-established hub for accessing high-quality Colorado fruit and wine, the two communities are rapidly becoming an outdoor mecca for activities, such as mountain biking and other outdoor recreation experiences.

The Fruita Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and the Palisade Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) work to advance tourism in their respective communities and coordinate tourism-related activities that benefit both locations. Both entities are funded through a locally collected lodging tax, with Fruita collecting a 3% tax and Palisade collecting $2 per room per night stay.

TAC and TAB were 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 recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

Fruita and Palisade also convened a core team composed of members of the TAC and TAB to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. Two core team meetings were held to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, validate the findings from the recovery assessment, and guide workshop design. 

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results 

TAC and TAB supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, insights from residents and tourism stakeholders, and input from the core team.

The two communities convened 15 tourism stakeholders on October 28, 2021 for a community visioning and action planning workshop to review the recovery assessment and align on priority actions for driving near-term recovery and long-term resilience. Workshop participants represented a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including public land advocates, city and county officials, nonprofits, and business owners.

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 Fruita and Palisade. Overlapping themes from these discussions included encouraging responsible visitation, developing and enhancing visitor experiences that showcase the competitive advantage of both communities, and continuing to align marketing efforts between TAC and TAB to extend limited budgets and share a consistent message.

As a result of the workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of a recovery action plan. Key priorities include:

  • encourage responsible visitation through tourism education and marketing
  • develop and enhance augmented experiences that harness the area’s unique combination of agritourism and outdoor recreation
  • expand efforts to co-market the two communities as a unified destination
  • champion the value of tourism
  • diversify tourism funding

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, TAC and TAB formed the Fruita and Palisade Tourism Partnership (F+P Partnership) with support from Mimi Mather, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in destination management, tourism development, and creative communications, to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to establish the F+P Partnership agreement, and to develop digital storytelling resources and content that showcase Fruita and Palisade as a single destination. 

Project objectives included: 

  • draft a partnership agreement to formalize the F+P Partnership
  • develop a 12-month work plan to guide the F+P Partnership 
  • develop digital content that presents Fruita and Palisade as a single destination 
  • identify potential grants to support the proposed F+P Partnership projects

The F+P Partnership achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • partnership agreement to share with current and prospective members that outlines the purpose of the partnership, objectives, and protocols for meetings 
  • digital content and resources that present Fruita and Palisade as a single destination, and highlights agritourism and outdoor recreation experiences 
  • two Fruita and Palisade itineraries for the peak season and winter 
  • F+P Partnership work plan that includes potential projects, action items, meeting agendas, budget estimates, and funding sources
CRAFT Recovery assistance for Tourism

About Restart Destinations Program

The Restart Destinations Program supports Colorado tourism destinations to drive faster recovery as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Awarded destinations receive a recovery assessment, a full-day recovery workshop, 75 hours of customized technical assistance, and $10,000 in direct marketing support from the Colorado Tourism Office. This program was made possible by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.