Colorado passed the Regional Tourism Act in 2009 to help fund large tourism projects to attract new visitors from out of state after the 2008 Great Recession. The money comes from state sales tax increment financing. When a new development in a defined geographic area creates new tax revenue, an increment of that new revenue will finance the projects. Projects can borrow money against that increment of sales tax revenue. Each year until the payments total the whole funds award, the State pays the project’s financing entity the increment of sales tax from the geographic area.
From 2012 to 2015, the Colorado Economic Development Commission designated five projects across the state as Regional Tourism Act Projects.
The Regional Tourism Act Program funded projects that:
- are extraordinary and distinctive and likely to significantly increase economic development and tourism in the community and in the state
- are likely to substantially an increase in out-of-state tourism
- are likely to general a significant portion of the sales tax revenue from transactions with nonresidents of Colorado – a possible exemption is if the project is likely to general a significant portion of the sales tax revenue from transactions with Colorado residents and the revenue would otherwise leave Colorado due to a lack of a similar project or facility in Colorado
- would not have been likely to happen in the foreseeable future without this program
The State hired a third-party analyst to review the applications. Staff from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade compiled the information with recommendations to the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC).
- decided whether to award funds
- set conditions
- allocated state sales tax increment revenue for each project
Every Regional Tourism Act project needs to submit:
- quarterly reports
- annual reports
- certification from a certified public accountant that the financing entity spent RTA funds on eligible costs
- certification from a project engineer that construction costs are reasonable
- an independent audit by a certified public accountant attesting to the accuracy of the annual report and financial status
Project representatives need to meet quarterly with our staff. The project team needs to meet twice a year with the Colorado Economic Development Commission.
The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center opened in early 2019. With 1,501 rooms, it is the largest hotel in Colorado. The resort has booked more than 1.2 million room nights through the next 10 years, and 81% of those room nights are from organizations that had never held an event in Colorado.
City for Champions is a collection of four projects with five distinct venues. It builds upon Colorado Springs’ history as a health destination, a training ground for servicemen and servicewomen, and a sports and fitness hub.
The five venues are:
- United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum
- Hybl Sports Medicine Center at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs
- United States Air Force Academy Gateway Visitor Center
- Downtown Stadium at the Colorado Sports and Events Center
- Robson Arena at the Colorado Sports and Events Center
The City and County of Denver, Colorado State University system, and National Western Stock Show and Rodeo expect to open the National Western Center in 2024. In 2018, construction started on more than 2.2 million square feet of new indoor and outdoor spaces. Along with partners History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the National Western Center will host innovation and research labs, farmers markets, international conferences, outdoor festivals, and everything in between.
The Regional Tourism Act Program will help build tourist opportunities with a new livestock center, stockyards and events pavilion, equestrian center, revitalized riverfront, and connections to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Go NoCo projects have a family-friendly water and wellness theme. These projects are backed by the city of Loveland, the town of Windsor, the town of Estes Park, Larimer County and several private partners including McWhinney, Water Valley Land Company, and Grand Heritage Hotels Group.
The four projects are:
- The PeliGrande Resort and Windsor Conference Center
- Stanley Film Center
- The Indoor Waterpark Resort of the Rockies
- The U.S. Whitewater Adventure Park
In Pueblo’s EDistrict, the Pueblo Professional Bull Riders University and Heritage of Heroes Project will attract club sports events, trade shows and conventions, military reunions, outdoor festivals and events, and the Professional Bull Riders community.
The Regional Tourism Act Program will fund:
- an exposition hall with Professional Bull Riders University training facility and five meeting rooms
- expanded medal of honor memorial and walk of valor
- the Gateway Center Boat House
- heritage events plaza
- aquatics center and outdoor water park
- parking structure