Durango on the front lines of tourism

Courtesy of John Cohen

Rich Millard, chief conductor, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, has been named by the Colorado Tourism Office as one of the state’s top frontline tourism employees.

The first full week of May is annually recognized as National Tourism Week, a tradition established by the Congress and first celebrated in 1984.

Local events are hosted in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel. The U.S. Travel Association reports that each U.S. household would pay $1,055 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry, and 1 out of 9 jobs in the country depends on travel and tourism.

To recognize and celebrate the importance of travel, Durango participated in the Discover Tourism Rally hosted by the Colorado Tourism Office on May 1 on the steps of the state Capitol.

One part of the festivities honored frontline tourism employees who play an integral role in creating the tourist’s experience. The Durango Area Tourism Office nominated three “frontline” tourism ambassadors to be honored: Dionne Beggrow, director of marketing, Soaring Tree Top Adventures; Rich Millard, chief conductor, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; and David Woodruff, assistant general manager, Steamworks Brewing Co.

Millard was honored at the state level by the Colorado Tourism Office for his service as a frontline tourism employee. He began working as a brakeman at the Durango train; he will celebrate his 20th year with the company this month. He takes pride in his work and likes to help create a memorable experience for all riders.

As the “official” welcome and information resource, Durango Area Tourism Office applauds local businesses and people like Millard who serve as our local frontline “sales force” and make our guests feel welcome. DATO staffs the Visitor Center in Santa Rita Park and soon will open the Welcome Center on Main Avenue.

The Welcome Center, scheduled to open late this month, will serve as a one-stop tourism shop for everything locals and visitors will need to create the quintessential vacation experience.

In addition to providing valuable information to entice people to visit our area, the Durango Area Tourism Office is a valuable source of information to locals and visitors once they arrive.

Summer is just around the corner, and the Durango area has an incredible lineup of events and activities that will attract tourists from around the world.

Thank you to all our frontline tourism employees who can make the difference in each and everyone’s experience.

john@durango.org. John Cohen is the executive director for the Durango Area Tourism Office. DATO is a nonprofit organization that promotes Durango and La Plata County’s multitude of tourism attractions. It is funded by the lodgers tax collected on lodging rooms in Durango and La Plata County.

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