Tourism summit will offer chance to brainstorm

Tourism is one of the cornerstones of Southwest Colorado’s economy, and it will take the spotlight April 5-6 at the Inaugural Southwest Tourism Summit: The Source.

The idea was proposed by Carrie Whitley of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad initially to attract more group business to the area.

The idea evolved and expanded to an overall tourism summit as local businesses and tourism entities got on board. The Source is a mini-conference that will bring together local tourism businesses and state tourism leaders and professionals. Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, will be the featured guest speaker. He will present information and insights about our state’s tourism programs and initiatives.

The Summit organizing committee members include: Strater Hotel, Durango Area Tourism Office, Rochester Hotel, Sky Ute Casino and Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.

“It takes years to gather knowledge and develop relationships with our local, state and regional tourism associations; now in one place, at one time we are bringing the best tourism minds to Durango,” says Whitley, The Summit chairwoman.

“It is 1˝ days of presentations, workshops and seminars focused on how local, state and regional tourism associations can work together,” she said. The Summit offers something for everyone – from ranch owners learning about agritourism, to business owners learning about free opportunities to reach future visitors from outside our state and from around the world.”

What can you expect at the inaugural conference? Seminars, workshops and educational sessions will focus on all aspects of tourism marketing and sales. Learn more about tourism trends, partnership opportunities, social media, marketing, public relations, agritourism, Internet technology, international markets and FAM tours.

In addition to Colorado Tourism staff members and state providers, participants will meet and mingle with representatives from Tour Colorado, Grand Circle, Four Corners Film Commission and Southwest Colorado Travel Program. Social receptions and meals will offer time to meet and network with other businesses with a tourism focus.

As the weather tugs and toys with spring, our attention begins to shift to our summer tourism season. The Source is a great opportunity to build your knowledge and alliances with local, regional and state tourism partners – two days that will help you prepare for a successful tourism year.

Registration and information is available at or

John Cohen is executive director for the Durango Area Tourism Office, which promotes Durango and La Plata County’s multitude of tourism attractions. Contact him at or 247-3500.