Restart Destinations Success Story: Marble Crystal River Chamber

The Marble Crystal River Chamber (MCRC) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • enhance responsible visitation education and messaging 
  • reposition tourism marketing and product development efforts towards low-impact travel experiences 
  • convene tourism stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism and align on collaborative solutions 

Located in the Mountains and Mesas region, the town of Marble is where technology gives way to personal connections and life runs at a different pace. Positioned at the end of the road in the Crystal River Valley, Marbe is a haven for artists, nature lovers, and those seeking to escape to a simpler way of being. A town shaped by quarrying and carving for over 130 years, its rich history is written in the stones of the historical sites, sculptures, and the unique mountain community still standing today.

MCRC is made up of local small business owners and is responsible for tourism marketing and management for Marble and the Crystal River Valley. The MCRC receives a portion of the 4% lodging tax collected within Gunnison County to fund its tourism efforts.

MCRC 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 full-day community visioning and action planning workshop. 

MCRC also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. MCRC hosted one core team meeting 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 

MCRC 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.

MCRC convened 20 tourism stakeholders on October 26, 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 industry sectors, including elected officials, public land agencies, creatives, accommodations, education, 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 Marble. Overlapping themes from these discussions included increasing tourism management capacity and funding, expanding arts and cultural events, improving outdoor recreation infrastructure, maintaining a small town feel with no cell service or growth of amenities, and attracting visitors interested in low-impact experiences. 

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:

  • attract the low-impact traveler 
  • encourage responsible visitation 
  • champion the value of tourism

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, MCRC was paired with Derek Schimmel, a CRAFT Mentor from the Tourism Consulting Collaborative, with experience in tourism content marketing, destination development storytelling, and community branding, to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to reposition tourism marketing and product development efforts towards low-impact travel experiences, and to increase stakeholder collaboration through engagement with the Town of Marble, Stay The Trail, and Western Colorado University (WCU).

Project objectives included:

  • develop a monthly tourism newsletter template and content for an initial newsletter targeting residents 
  • identify specific MCRC funding needs that are appropriate for state and federal grant programs and support the development of grant applications
  • facilitate a working group that includes the Lead King Loop (LKL) steering committee, the Town of Marble, and Stay The Trail

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

  • editorial guide and content calendar for
  • template for digital newsletter and written content for first edition targeting residents
  • grant application guide for state and federal funding opportunities
  • collaboration among the Marble stakeholders MCRC, Town of Marble, WCU, and Stay The Trail
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.