Restart Destinations Success Story: Fremont County Tourism Council

The Fremont County Tourism Council (FCTC) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • advance strategies that protect public lands and prevent overuse of resources
  • explore strategies to educate and engage residents on the value of tourism
  • establish partnerships and programs that assist local tourism businesses and tourism workforce 

Located in the Pikes Peak Wonders travel region, Fremont County is home to the towns of Cañon City, Cotopaxi, Florence, Howard, and Penrose. Fremont County is known for the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, and whitewater rafting along the Arkansas River. In more recent years, Cañon City has become recognized as an up-and-coming outdoor recreation destination for its world-class rafting, fishing, trails, and rock climbing.

FCTC is a volunteer board composed of individuals that live and work in the county and represent a diversity of tourism sectors. The mission of the FCTC is to responsibly budget and spend its portion of the 2% lodging tax collected within Fremont County to increase visitors to the area and thereby have a positive economic impact to the entire region. The FCTC is also responsible for overseeing projects that enhance visitor management and visitor experience, including outdoor recreation, cultural heritage tours, and agritourism.

Fremont County 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 and management, destination marketing, public relations, and communications, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

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

The FCTC 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.

FCTC convened 20 tourism stakeholders on November, 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, economic development organizations, outdoor recreation outfitters, events, retail, and tourism attractions.

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 the destination. Overlapping themes from these discussions included championing the value of tourism, implementing visitor management strategies, and developing a strong tourism workforce.

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:

  • enhance visitor management 
  • champion the value of tourism
  • advance tourism workforce
  • promote local businesses and services

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, FCTC 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 project was to raise awareness of the value of FCTC to local communities and to increase tourism workforce training opportunities.  

Project objectives included: 

  • develop a content calendar and digital content that promotes FCTC and encourages increased community engagement with the organization
  • develop a list of recommendations and action steps for FCTC to increase engagement with Fremont County residents and visitors 
  • develop a presentation and resources for FCTC to use in the Royal Gorge Chamber Alliance's (RGCA) new mini-education lunchtime sessions to advance tourism workforce opportunities 

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

  • 6-month content calendar that promotes FCTC’s work, highlights local tourism efforts, provides resources, and announces opportunities for local tourism partners
  • list of 20 recommendations and action steps for FCTC to increase engagement with residents and visitors
  • FCTC presentation for education sessions with members of the RGCA and other partners
  • recommendations for FCTC and RGCA to promote the Colorado Concierge Program and advance tourism workforce development opportunities
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.