Restart Destinations Success Story: Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau

The Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau (CCCTB) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • advance sustainable tourism and responsible visitation 
  • disperse visitors throughout the county
  • extend peak tourism seasons and drive visitation to off-peak times of year
  • identify new strategies to promote local businesses and attractions

Located in the Rockies Playground, Clear Creek County is home to the historic mining communities of Idaho Springs, Empire, Georgetown, and Silver Plume. More than 75 percent of Clear Creek County is public land, including the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and the Pawnee National Grassland that provide access to two ski areas, hiking and biking trails, and numerous historic attractions.

CCCTB is responsible for managing the 2% Clear Creek County lodging tax and overseeing destination marketing activities that drive visitation throughout the county. Beginning in 2022, CCCTB will expand its core competencies to include destination management activities in addition to destination marketing.

Clear Creek County was paired with Amy Cassidy, a CRAFT Workshop Facilitator with experience in tourism and outdoor recreation development, strategic planning, marketing, and communications in emerging and established destinations throughout Colorado, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop. 

CCCTB also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. CCCTB 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 

CCCTB supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, insights from residents and tourism stakeholders, a tourism stakeholder survey, and input from the core team.

CCCTB convened 25 tourism stakeholders on December 2, 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 elected officials, county and city staff, school board, accommodations, attractions, guides, retail, restaurants, event producers, historians, and interested citizens. 

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 Clear Creek County. Overlapping themes from these discussions include offering a year-round tourism economy, attracting responsible visitors, expanding tourism infrastructure (i.e. hotels), adding more transportation services, developing additional workforce housing, and improving quality of life for residents.

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:

  • champion the value of tourism and communicate the role of CCCTB
  • educate residents and visitors on responsible recreation best practices 
  • disperse visitation throughout the county and between seasons
  • attract the conscientious traveler, especially during peak times of year

CRAFT Mentor Project Results 

Following the workshop, CCCTB was paired with Amy Cassidy, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in stakeholder engagement, open space and outdoor recreation planning, and destination development to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to convene outdoor recreation partners to understand priority impacts on public lands, align on responsible recreation messaging, and advance responsible recreation communication efforts. 

Project objectives included: 

  • convene outdoor recreation stakeholders to understand priority impacts on public lands through one-on-one meetings 
  • facilitate one roundtable meeting with outdoor recreation stakeholders and elected officials
  • develop a draft responsible recreation messaging toolkit

CCCTB achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • one-on-one meetings with outdoor recreation stakeholders 
  • roundtable meeting with outdoor recreation stakeholder and elected officials 
  • draft responsible recreation messaging toolkit 
  • adoption of the responsible recreation messaging toolkit by the CCCTB board 
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.