Restart Destinations Success Story: Visit Glenwood Springs

Visit Glenwood Springs (VGS) approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • foster greater inclusion in all aspects of the tourism industry
  • identify strategies that support a more resilient tourism workforce
  • convene tourism stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism and align on collaborative solutions  

Located in the Rockies Playground, Glenwood Springs is where world-famous hot springs meet year-round outdoor adventures. Home to the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool and two other rejuvenating hot springs attractions, Glenwood Springs has been known as the wellness capital of Colorado for more than 130 years. 

Visit Glenwood Springs (VGS) is the tourism department of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and serves as the marketing arm for the community of Glenwood Springs. VGS staff manage a budget supported through 85% of annual accommodations tax receipts and a board of directors appointed by the City Council. 

VGS 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.

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

VGS 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.

VGS convened 18 tourism stakeholders on October 12, 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, transportation providers, trails organizations, reservation systems, 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 Glenwood Springs. Overlapping themes from these discussions included increasing year-round tourism opportunities, protecting natural resources, attracting responsible travelers, acknowledging resident quality of life during tourism planning, improving low-impact transportation infrastructure, and increasing arts and cultural events. 

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:

  • foster inclusive travel opportunities
  • encourage responsible visitation
  • continue to increase off-peak tourism
  • champion the value of tourism
  • support tourism workforce

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

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

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to develop messaging that demonstrates the role of VGS in destination management, and to identify potential funding structures to support VGS.

Project objectives included: 

  • build a narrative to describe why diverse funding mechanisms would be helpful to Glenwood Springs 
  • research opportunities for VGS to diversify its funding sources 

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

  • matrix of funding options and an assessment of opportunities that best supports the needs of VGS 
  • recommended talking points that raise awareness of the value and roles of VGS
  • presentation for VGS leadership that outlines the need for additional funding and opportunities to consider when appropriate
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.