Restart Destinations Success Story: City of Woodland Park

The City of Woodland Park (Woodland Park) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • develop a strategic plan to advance tourism for the City of Woodland Park
  • foster collaboration among key Woodland Park tourism stakeholders
  • enhance visitor information about Woodland Park experiences across print and digital channels  

Located in the Pikes Peak Wonders region, the City of Woodland Park is known as the City Above the Clouds and is popular for its scenic views of Pikes Peak and its abundance of public lands and access to outdoor recreation.

Woodland Park manages the city’s 5.7% lodging tax, which is used to advance tourism and community projects, including park maintenance, its Main Street program, the local Visitor Center, and destination marketing. Woodland Park’s City Manager is actively working with local tourism leaders to develop a common vision for the future of tourism in Woodland Park.

Woodland Park was paired with Sarah-Jane Johnson and Beth Wright of RoadMap Consulting, a sustainable tourism consultancy with experience in rural tourism development, stakeholder engagement, destination stewardship/management, destination marketing, public relations and communications, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

Woodland Park also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. Woodland Park hosted three core team meetings to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the recovery assessment, and guide workshop design. 

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results 

Woodland Park supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile survey, insights from residents and tourism stakeholders, and input from the core team.

Woodland Park convened 16 tourism stakeholders on October 12, 2021 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center 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 officials, nonprofits, marketers, recreation outfitters, accommodations, and conservation and tourism alliances. 

Workshop participants engaged in small group activities to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that improve the tourism industry in Woodland Park. Overlapping themes from these discussions included establishing a framework and leadership capacity for coordinating the marketing and management of tourism, educating elected officials and local residents about the value of tourism, creating a centralized location for tourism information (for visitors and residents), promoting existing and emerging visitor experiences, and developing a clear narrative of what Woodland Park is and what it aspires to be as a destination. 

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:

  • establish a tourism management framework that enables stakeholders to more effectively coordinate tourism development and marketing efforts
  • champion the value of tourism within the community to improve resident engagement and understanding of tourism in Woodland Park
  • encourage responsible visitation through education and awareness campaigns that protect public lands and natural resources
  • advance local tourism workforce through new resources and training programs
  • diversify Woodland Park visitor experiences through new and enhanced tourism infrastructure

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, Woodland Park was paired with Beth Wright, a CRAFT Mentor from the Tourism Consulting Collaborative, with experience in rural destination planning and development, tourism industry research, project management, and stakeholder engagement, to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to recommend a tourism management structure and strategic plan that will streamline the coordination and collaboration of local tourism stakeholders, align the promotion of Woodland Park as a destination with accurate information about the experiences available in the area, and build awareness of tourism’s benefit to resident quality of life. A specific focus will be applied to further educate and engage community members and elected officials in tourism planning and decision making.

Project objectives included:

  • recommend a tourism management structure that includes a roadmap to establish a structure, department and position, and a tourism management and marketing plan (TMMP)
  • develop a series of communication resources for Woodland Park to build awareness of the proposed tourism management structure and build local awareness around the value of tourism with residents and elected officials
  • identify and provide recommendations for  Woodland Park tourism funding opportunities 

Woodland Park achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • proposed tourism management structure for Woodland Park that includes recommendations for roles and responsibilities, a roadmap for the development of an Economic Development and Tourism Director and Tourism Advisory Board, and a tourism management and marketing plan (TMMP) 
  • template job description for an Economic Development and Tourism Director position
  • communication resources that support the city in communicating the value of tourism and provide transparency about the process to develop a structure and strategic plan
  • development of one or more narratives that includes boilerplate language for grant application project descriptions (see recommendations report) 

"Participating in this program provided a timely opportunity to fill a gap in our community. Third-party facilitation re-energized stakeholders and motivated groups to work together in identifying tourism management needs. This program was exactly what we needed to get serious about tourism and visitor management in Woodland Park." -Grace Johnson, Communication and Marketing Coordinator, City of Woodland Park

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.