Restart Destinations Success Story: Towns of Silverthorne and Dillon

The Towns of Silverthorne and Dillon (Exit 205) were approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • identify strategies to manage tourism resources responsibly through increased visitor education 
  • increase promotion of Silverthorne and Dillon as a unified destination that offers diverse visitor experiences throughout the year
  • advance creative arts, cultural tourism experiences, and events for visitors and residents

Located in the Rockies Playground at the heart of Summit County, the Towns of Silverthorne and Dillon are small mountain communities that collectively form “Exit 205” off of Interstate 70. Exit 205 offers visitors and residents an accessible mountain lifestyle that is rich in the creative arts and outdoor recreation, and that fosters a sense of pride in community.

Exit 205 provide marketing, promotion, and public communications services for their communities. The towns are also responsible for creating unique and memorable experiences for residents and visitors through education about local recreational opportunities, cultural events, and other unique experiences. The tourism efforts of Exit 205 are funded through a 2% lodging tax that is collected within each community. 

Exit 205 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.

Exit 205 also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. Three core team meetings were hosted to identify priority barriers and opportunities to advance tourism, discuss the findings from the recovery assessment, and guide workshop design. 

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results 

Exit 205 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. The findings from the assessment were compiled into a report that informed the design of the full-day workshop.

Exit 205 convened 23 tourism stakeholders on November 8, 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 and community stakeholders, including elected officials, economic development entities, public land agencies, accommodations, retail, guide services, and the creative arts. 

Workshop participants engaged in a small group activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the Exit 205 tourism industry. Overlapping themes from these discussions included advancing visitor management strategies, championing the value of tourism, and promoting diverse visitor 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:

  • encourage responsible visitation
  • champion the value of tourism
  • expand co-marketing efforts
  • build a strong tourism workforce

CRAFT Mentor Project Results 

Following the workshop, Exit 205 was paired with Julie Klein, a CRAFT Mentor from the Tourism Consulting Collaborative with experience in international tourism, sustainability strategy, standards and implementation, stakeholder engagement, project management, and communications content development, to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to increase responsible visitation messaging, and to promote Silverthorne and Dillon as a unified destination that offers diverse visitor experiences throughout the year.  

Project objectives included:

  • align on shared marketing strategies to promote Silverthorne and Dillon as a unified destination 
  • explore the development of a Do Exit 205 Right marketing and messaging campaign 

Exit 205 achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • marketing work plan with an inventory of marketing efforts and 12-month strategy that promotes Silverthorne and Dillon as a unified destination
  • Do Exit 205 Right campaign content and communications approach that includes car-free itineraries

"Participating in the Restart Destinations Program has allowed Exit 205 to review its approach and messaging toward tourism to have a more effective and local approach that educates residents and visitors alike on how to travel responsibly and live in our community sustainably." -Kristina Nayden, Marketing and Communications Manager, Town of Silverthorne

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.