Restart Destinations Success Story: Visit Ouray

Visit Ouray was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • advance tourism management strategies
  • encourage responsible and respectful use
  • champion the value of tourism

Visit Ouray is tasked with the development, promotion, and management of tourism for the City of Ouray and is funded through a portion of the 3.5% Lodging Occupation Tax collected within the city. A Tourism Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from the different segments of the business community is also responsible for providing input and recommendations to Visit Ouray. Visit Ouray is often referred to as the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado” and leverages the more than 60 recreational activities that a resident or visitor can participate in from their doorstep to market the destination.

Visit Ouray was paired with Dan Moore, a travel industry professional with experience in tourism development, staff training, and business consulting, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a community visioning and action planning workshop.

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results 

Visit Ouray supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, and insights from residents and tourism stakeholders.

Visit Ouray convened a small group of tourism stakeholders on October 21, 2021 at the Ouray Community Center for a community tourism 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 city leadership and staff. 

Workshop participants engaged in an activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry in Ouray. Overlapping themes from these discussions included advancing off-peak visitation, increasing responsible and respectful use messaging, developing a sustainable tourism leadership structure, and increasing community participation and engagement in tourism-related decision making.
As a result of the recovery assessment and workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of a recovery action plan. Key priorities include:

establish a tourism leadership structure

  • encourage responsible and respectful use through education and awareness campaigns that protect public lands and natural resources
  • attract the low-impact traveler
  • champion the value of tourism

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, Visit Ouray 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 provide recommendations to establish a new structure for Visit Ouray’s destination marketing and management organization, and to develop strategies for future tourism planning and project implementation.

Project objectives included:

  • research three comparable destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with similar operational budgets, target audiences, and tourism assets
  • provide recommendations and best practices to develop a new destination marketing and management organization structure, champion the value of tourism, and hire an executive director to advance tourism priorities 
  • identify grant opportunities that support the growth and sustainability of Visit Ouray’s new destination marketing and management organization structure  

Visit Ouray achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • slide deck that includes example DMO roles, competencies, structure, and talking points that champion the value of tourism
  • executive director job description template for Visit Ouray’s tourism department that explains roles and responsibilities
  • DMO comparative analysis that helps Visit Ouray to understand how to develop equity amongst local stakeholders
  • recommendations and goals to participate in the Reimagine Destinations Program 

"Through the facilitation and technical assistance of the Restart Destinations Program, the City has now taken on the work through the new Tourism Department.  Through these efforts the City is now back around the table with our local, state, and federal partners. The Visitors Center hours have been expanded and our marketing efforts are being expanded through the work of our new Tourism and Destination Management Director." - Silas Clark, City Administrator, City of Ouray 

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.