Restart Destinations Success Story: Lake County Tourism Panel

The Lake County Tourism Panel (LCTP) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • foster stronger communication between local business owners, residents, and the Lake County Tourism Panel
  • convene local tourism stakeholders to identify tourism industry opportunities and collaborate on solutions 

Located in the Rockies Playground, Lake County is home to Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America, and the village of Twin Lakes. To advance tourism throughout Lake County, the Lake County Tourism Panel uses three pillars: Top of the Rockies - Majestic Beauty & Outdoor Adventure; Genuine & Historic Mountain Towns; and Welcoming, Gritty Community Spirit.

LCTP is responsible for developing, managing, and promoting tourism for Lake County. In response to a growth in tourism over the last ten years, the LCTP has shifted its focus towards sustainable tourism, responsible recreation, and local business outreach. The LCTP has also been targeting promotion to visitors that are most likely to appreciate, and care for, Lake County. As a result, the LCTP is dedicated to growing tourism sustainably in partnership with local businesses and residents.

LCTP was paired with Hilary Lewkowitz, a CRAFT Workshop Facilitator with experience in tourism development, stakeholder engagement, sustainable tourism and destination marketing, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a community visioning and action planning workshop.

LCTP also convened a core team of Lake County tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. The LCTP hosted three core team meetings 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 

LCTP 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.

Lake County convened 26 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 officials, public land agencies, economic development, trails organizations, accommodations, attractions, retail, and restaurants.

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 Lake County. Overlapping themes from these discussions included preserving local quality of life, protecting natural resources, increasing responsible visitation messaging and education, expanding local events, and increasing small business opportunities. 

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 
  • build awareness of the value of tourism 
  • foster inclusive travel opportunities 
  • advance tourism workforce

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, LCTP was paired with Tina Valdecanas, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in destination marketing management and tourism advocacy to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to develop a sustainable tourism plan that supports a vibrant tourism economy, encourages responsible tourism, and uplifts resident quality of life.

Project objectives included:

  • augment the existing draft plan with relevant sustainable tourism best practices and input from the workshop
  • develop goals, measurable objectives, and a short-term actions timeline to implement the plan
  • convene two one-hour virtual LCTP meetings to present the draft sustainable tourism plan for comment and adoption 

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

  • draft messaging for the Lake County Tourism Manager to frame the value of tourism and the role of the LCTP
  • sustainable tourism plan that outlines goals, measurable objectives, implementation strategies, and short-term actions timeline
  • strategies for the Lake County Tourism Manager to leverage other grant programs and build capacity to jump-start initiatives identified in the sustainable tourism plan

"Restart Destinations allowed our community to come together and reflect on the fact that sustainable tourism, and protecting our number one asset, our recreational spaces, is deeply important to all of us moving forward." - Adam Ducharme, Tourism Manager, Lake County


Colorado Recovery Assistance for Tourisma

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.