Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey

The Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey is a tuition-based, year-long program for tourism professionals to grow their careers. For employers, it offers a cost-effective way to develop, reward, and retain top talent. The Colorado Tourism Office created this program to grow economic development through a stronger, more unified tourism industry.

The Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey includes:

  • experiential learning opportunities
  • monthly small group meetings
  • one-to-one mentoring
  • assigned readings
  • an action learning project

The program typically begins and concludes at the annual Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference.

Through this program, participants will develop:

  • leadership skills, creative team problem-solving, listening and communication skills, emotional intelligence and deeper self-awareness
  • lifelong relationships and networking pathways through connection with participants, mentor, and presenters
  • connections with state and national resources and networks through experiential learning in a variety of Colorado contexts
  • a sense of shared identity as a contributor to an industry that promotes Colorado’s economy and well-being
  • an original, employer-sponsored action learning project

  Applications are not currently being accepted due to COVID-19. Please submit the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey Interest Form to be reminded when this application opens.


Type: Leadership program

For: Tourism professionals

Cost: $2,500 per person

Application deadline: Late June

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Participants represent a range of sectors including, but not limited to:

  • destination marketing organizations
  • ski
  • hotel
  • casino
  • restaurant
  • gaming
  • agritourism
  • media/marketing/advertising
  • charitable/social organizations
  • public lands agencies

To be eligible, you need to:

  • work in a sector of the Colorado tourism industry
  • demonstrate progressive advancement in your career
  • complete the required application process
  • provide a letter of commitment from your organization to participate in the Leadership Journey (unless you are an independent contractor)
  • demonstrate leadership potential based on a selection panel’s scoring of your application and a virtual interview

Participating in the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey is a significant time commitment. Only one excused absence is allowed to accommodate extreme circumstances. 

If you are selected for the class, you are responsible for:

  • $2,500 for tuition, which includes attendance at two successive Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conferences, all program facilitation, and the assignment of a one-to-one mentor (Limited scholarships are available based on need. Contact for more information.)
  • costs of travel and lodging (about $200 per night) to take part in experiential learning opportunities.
  • attending a minimum of four of the five experiential learning opportunities (including those at the Governor’s Conferences)
  • completing required readings, videos, and other materials
  • developing a relationship with an assigned mentor, including initiating monthly half-hour mentoring sessions
  • attending hour-long small-group discussions
  • completing an action learning project

Below you’ll find the curriculum and schedule for the Class of 2020. Please use this as a reference while we finalize details for the Class of 2022 curriculum and schedule.

Five experiential learning opportunities are (Note: Due to COVID the Class of 2020’s curriculum and learning opportunities w over the course over two years):

  • Induction: September 30th - October 2nd, 2019 at the 2019 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Denver, CO 
  • January/February 2020 in Colorado Springs, CO
  • June 2021 in Blackhawk, CO
  • September 2021 in Snowmass, CO
  • Graduation: November 2nd - November 5th, 2021 at the 2021 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Pueblo, CO

Required readings:

  • “The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations” by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  • “The Speed of Trust: One Thing that Changes Everything” by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins
  • “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • “Discover Your True North” by Bill George

Other activities include:

  • monthly half-hour sessions with assigned mentors
  • eight one-hour-long discussions in small groups
  • complete an action learning project

 Applications are not currently being accepted. Please submit the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey Interest Form to be reminded when this application opens.

The application opens every April and closes at the end of June.

Apply online through the OEDIT application portal. Log in or create a new account. New users are manually added to the portal for security reasons, so it may take several days to activate your account.

Application materials

Your application will include:

  • detailed project description
  • timeline for the project
  • budget outlining all anticipated expenses
  • strategy for raising matching funds or proof that you already have matching funds

The questions below are only a reference and do not include all of the information you need to include in the application.

  • What drives you and inspires you to lead?
  • How would your participation in this program make a difference for your employer and for the state tourism industry?
  • What strengths will you bring to the class?
  • How has the ongoing global health crisis inspired you to lead in both your community and the tourism industry?

You will also need to provide:

  • a resume that gives an overview of your employment history, educational background, current affiliations, and extracurricular activities
  • two letters of recommendation for you to participate in this program: Letters should reflect on your work outcomes, talents, and leadership potential. At least one letter needs to speak to your work performance.
  • a completed Participant/Employer Commitment Form

This is a competitive process, and not all applicants will be selected. A panel of Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) staff and industry partners conducts interviews and reviews applications. Upon the Colorado Tourism Office’s verification that an applicant has met minimum standards for consideration, the applicant is invited for a virtual interview with the Leadership Journey Selection Committee. The committee typically includes CTO staff members, Leadership Journey facilitators, and CTO Leadership Committee members. All applicants are notified by September 1.

The panel evaluates applications on these criteria:

  • passion and commitment to the Colorado tourism industry
  • demonstrated experience as a leader
  • geographic diversity
  • ethnic and cultural diversity
  • age and gender diversity

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) engaged the Keystone Policy Center and Adventures in Leading to design a curriculum around both career and personal growth for participants. CTO staff and the CTO Leadership Committee guide the program.

Program Manager

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