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Tourism Management Grant

Grant Summary

The Colorado Tourism Office's Tourism Management Grant provides funding for tourism-related projects that develop, enhance or manage visitor experience in Colorado.

The maximum grant amount is $20,000 and the required match is 4:1. For every $1 the qualifying grantee allocates to the proposed project, the Colorado Tourism Office will provide $4 in matching funds. For example, if your total project budget is $25,000, you can request a $20,000 grant and you will need to provide the remaining $5,000 as a cash match

The Colorado Tourism Office hosted an informational session about the Tourism Managment Grant on December 12. Watch a recording of the webinar here.

The Tourism Management Grant application period is now closed.

Overview

Type: Grant

For: Nonprofit Colorado destination organizations, nonprofit tourism leadership organizations, nonprofit tourism industry associations, and government entities

Amount: Up to $20,000

Application period: December to January

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Only one application per Colorado destination organization or Colorado tourism industry association will be accepted for the Tourism Management Grant.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Colorado destination organizations
    • recipients of jurisdictional lodging taxes, such as: 
      • destination marketing organizations 
      • lodging tax boards, committees, or panels 
    • other tourism leadership organizations that are responsible for developing, promoting, and managing tourism on behalf of a destination, such as: 
      • chambers of commerce or chamber resort associations 
  • Colorado tourism industry associations
    • registered nonprofit trade organizations that represent a collection of tourism businesses within one or more tourism-related business sectors
      • nonprofit trade organizations that do not represent tourism-related business sectors or that provide services only to individuals, though critically important, are not the intended recipients of these programs
  • Government entities in Colorado (state entities, local governments, and federally recognized tribes) engaged in tourism promotion, development, and management

Ineligible applicants include:

  • for-profit organizations
  • individual attractions, museums, or businesses
  • nonprofits whose main objective is not tourism

Entities that failed to fulfill Colorado Tourism Office grant award requirements within the past twelve (12) months may be deemed ineligible.

The applicant can financially match the project cost at a higher amount if the cost exceeds grant dollar limitations.

Eligible projects

Eligible projects advance the development, enhancement or management of visitor experience in Colorado. Funding will only be awarded to projects that can be completed within a twelve (12) month period between May 1, 2024, and April 30, 2025.

Eligible use of funds for Tourism Management Grants

Eligible projects must support one or more of the eligible use of funds detailed below:

  1. Tourism product development (e.g., inclusive travel offerings, bicycle tourism guides, food and farm trails, stargazing)
    • Creative, media execution, and fulfillment cannot be more than 50% of the total project budget (see ineligible use of funds below for examples)
  2. Visitor education programs (e.g., travel philanthropy programs, trailhead ambassador programs)
  3. Tourism workforce development (e.g., talent studies, skills-based training programs, business audits)
  4. Tourism-related strategic planning (e.g., stakeholder and resident engagement, destination stewardship plans)
  5. Tourism research (e.g., feasibility studies, economic impact reports, visitor profile studies, accessibility audit)
  6. Infrastructure that directly enhances the visitor experience through increased access or engagement (e.g., wayfinding, educational or interpretive signage, educational kiosks)
    • a letter of support from the property owner or proof that the applicant owns the property is required for approval 

Additional consideration will be applied to projects that advance one or more of the secondary criteria below:

  • advance off-peak tourism opportunities 
  • advance tourism workforce 
  • champion the value of tourism 
  • develop and enhance visitor experience 
  • encourage responsible and respectful use 
  • foster inclusive travel opportunities 
  • promote local businesses and experiences 
Ineligible use of funds
  • funding can not be used as a match for other projects
  • general administrative costs such as personnel costs or office supplies
  • grant writing or grant management costs
  • food or alcoholic beverages
  • items for resale and gift cards
  • travel expenses
  • building construction or maintenance
  • participation at an industry or consumer-related trade show or conference
  • Destination Learning Labs/ Colorado Concierge training programs (see CTO Learning Labs for opportunities) 
Limitation of budget related to creative and marketing executions

No more than 50% of funds can be used for creative and marketing executions specific to a campaign.

  • creative executions specific to the marketing and promotional campaign:
    • creative advertising production (print, digital, out-of-home, video, social, and radio) 
    • content development (written, video, or audio)
    • photography
    • videography and post-production video editing
    • audio development (radio, etc.)
    • marketing collateral (print and digital brochures, visitor guides, posters, and maps)
    • fulfillment costs
    • promotional items (Promotional items must support the grant program goals and contain clear branding such as a call to action (CTA) or logo that features the grant recipient’s destination or organization.)
  • marketing executions specific to the marketing and promotional campaign:
    • media placement (print, digital, out-of-home, television, social, and radio)
    • social media initiatives
    • public relations initiatives
    • search engine marketing (SEM) initiatives (SEO/paid search)
    • Crowdriff Stories
    • email newsletter development and distribution
       

Applications for the Tourism Management Grant are no longer being accepted.

Although not required, applicants are encouraged to submit a brief LOI before completing a full application so that CTO staff can learn more about the proposed project and what the destination or tourism industry sector hopes to achieve through Tourism Management Grant funding.

The application process is as follows:

  1. Verify your eligibility by reading through the guidelines carefully.
  2. Prepare your application materials by filling out this Tourism Management Grant Application Questions (coming soon). This document includes all application questions. 
  3. Log in to the OEDIT online portal and submit your complete application in the online portal. Instructions for navigating the online portal are available here.
  4. Applications will be reviewed.
  5. Status notification approximately six (6) weeks after the application closes.

Supporting documentation

You will need to provide:

  • completed CTO tourism management grant budget (XLS) (download and save a copy for your use)
  • a completed CTO tourism management timeline (download and save a copy for your use) that includes all milestones and deliverables
  • letter(s) of commitment showing evidence of required cash match – matching dollars may not come from the State’s General Fund, Federal funds, Colorado Tourism Office funds, or other grant funds. Letter(s) of commitment must be on official letterhead and state the amount of cash committed by the organization
  • project support letters – all grant applications need to include at least three letters of support from local Colorado organizations or individuals (other than the applicant) that will benefit from the results of the project 
    • project support letters are not the same as letters of commitment
    • project letters of support are required from property owners (if different than the applicant) that own the location of any proposed infrastructure projects 
    • project letters of support are required from the relevant Colorado land management agencies when proposed projects interface with Colorado public lands

Additionally, nonprofit entities must provide:

Applications are first vetted through an internal compliance review to ensure eligibility and that all required materials have been submitted. Incomplete applications may be rejected.

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) will appoint a committee to review eligible applications. Grants will be awarded based on applications scores, availability of grant funding, and CTO final approval.

Tourism Management Grant applications receive decisions in mid-March.

Reviewers will prioritize applications that include:

a proposed project that meets all eligibility requirements, states clear objectives, and includes attainable deliverables that advance the development, enhancement, or management of visitor experience in Colorado

  • an applicant with a track record of effective work, evident through strong letters of support
  • a well-planned project timeline and budget
  • demonstration that the project will advance one or more of the secondary criteria
  • demonstrated need and a strong case for support

The committee will score applications on these criteria:

  • strength of the proposed project 
  • ability to advance the secondary criteria 
  • demonstrated need for the project 
  • capacity to implement 

Once an application is approved, OEDIT must execute a formal grant agreement with the awarded applicant before the applicant obligates or spends any grant funds. Grant funds will be awarded after the formal grant agreement start date. Expenses incurred before a formal grant agreement is executed are not allowable expenses.

The Colorado Tourism Office's goal is to provide grant funds upfront. Funds are subject to approval by the State Controller's Office yearly, so we may award funds on a reimbursement basis.

Grantees must: 

  • complete your project within the approved timeline and grant agreement date
  • keep the budget updated throughout the lifetime of the grant
  • submit reports as outlined in the grant agreement including a final report describing what was accomplished with the grant funds, a final budget, and documents for expenses incurred including invoices, expense receipts, and proof of payment

Project requirements:

  • CTO grant funds cannot be used as a match for existing or future grant opportunities including CTO co-op marketing opportunities
  • prior to production, publication, placement, and/or distribution, creative assets must be approved by the CTO 
  • all materials that are funded in part by the Colorado Tourism Office need to include the official Colorado Tourism Office logo unless otherwise directed by the CTO
  • grantees must submit a formal request using a Proposal Change Form if there is a change to the original proposal
  • any unused grant funds or grant funds not used as approved shall be returned to the Colorado Tourism Office pursuant to the grant agreement.

The following table outlines the timeline for the grants awarded in 2024.

December 5, 2023

Application opens

January 30, 2024

Application closes at 4:00 pm MST

mid-March 2024

Recipient notification

May 1, 2024 to April 30, 2025

Grant project execution period

November 30, 2024

Interim report due

June 15, 2025

Final report and expense receipts due

  • Brand Book: This guide is your compass to navigating the intricacies and nuances of the majestic Colorado brand, ensuring we always Come to Life in a unified, consistent manner. 
  • CTO Marketing Portal (public use of logo requires CTO approval): The Marketing Portal is a valuable hub where DMOs can access the CTO's marketing assets (including logos and toolkits), subscribe to newsletters, a calendar of marketing dates, and more.
    • Please note: Each DMO should only have 1 login because this is tied to your Data Engine account where you manage your listing.  Your username and password for the Marketing Portal are the same as your username and password for the Data Engine. If you forgot your username or password, visit the Marketing Portal, select “Log In to Enter Portal”, and select “Forgot your login/password?”.
       

 

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