Restart Destinations Success Story: Town of Lyons

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

  • identify strategies to market and promote Lyons as a stand-alone destination
  • inspire visitation beyond those traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park and Planet Bluegrass festivals
  • identify opportunities to offer year-round event programming

Located in Denver and Cities of the Rockies and at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain Rivers, Lyons is a small town that offers diverse hiking, biking, and river recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. Given its strategic location, the Town of Lyons is also widely considered a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Economic Vitality Commission (EVC) and Main Street Community program serve the Lyons business community and act as advisors to the Town of Lyons Board of Trustees on matters pertaining to business support and development. These organizations also work together to assist in growing the town’s sales tax base. In addition, the EVC works with other town commissions such as the Planning and Community Development Commission and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission to advance tourism opportunities for visitors, businesses, and residents.

Lyons 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.

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

Lyons 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.

Lyons convened ten tourism stakeholders on October 14, 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 town staff, event managers, an elected official, owners and operators of accommodations and attractions, and local nonprofit arts organizations. 

Workshop participants engaged in small group activities to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry in the Lyons. Overlapping themes from these discussions included building Lyons as a stand-alone, year-round destination, that is recognized for its creative arts and outdoor recreation, educating the local community about the value of tourism, advancing projects that benefit visitors and residents, and identifying dedicated local capacity to oversee tourism marketing and management for Lyons.

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 dedicated tourism leadership structure
  • increase year-round visitation
  • champion the value of tourism
  • enhance tourism infrastructure
  • advance tourism workforce

CRAFT Mentor Project Results 

Following the workshop, Lyons was paired with Sarah-Jane Johnson, a CRAFT Mentor from the Tourism Consulting Collaborative, with experience in rural destination development, tourism marketing and communications, and stakeholder engagement, to deliver 75 hours of technical assistance to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to establish a collaborative relationship with Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) that can support Lyons as a gateway community, and to explore opportunities to diversify tourism funding.  

Project objectives included: 

  • develop a framework to collaborate with RMNP on the timed entry permit system communications 
  • explore opportunities to increase tourism funding sources 

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

  • convene a meeting with the  RMNP Public Information Officer to discuss information systems and communication sources to help shape the development of the communications toolkit
  • RMNP timed entry permit (TEP) communications toolkit that includes a communications strategy, webpage wireframe, webpage content, and social media content calendar
  • case studies on gateway community and National Park collaboration opportunities 
  • Lyons work session to review presentation of tourism funding strategy and recommendations 
  • tourism funding strategies presentation and report that includes relevant case studies and funding recommendations
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.