Durango attracts tourists, but marketing helps

The Durango Area Tourism Office has been busier than usual. Our staff, along with the marketing and finance committees, has been working on our 2013 Marketing Plan and Budget, which now is complete.

If you live here, you know the amazing and diverse “product” that our office is privileged to promote and sell – breathtaking mountains and rivers, arts and culture, outdoor adventure, heritage, culinary and beer scenes among them.

It is DATO’s mission to generate visitation and overnight stays in our area so that tourism remains an economic driver while we diversify the local economy. We are especially focused on lengthening overnight stays and more actively communicating with past or future travelers.

Our teams looked at international, U.S. and business travel trends that might be incorporated into our planning. Those trends show that the majority of Americans plan to take a leisure trip, and 90 percent of them will travel by car.

We also looked at trends here in Colorado, which has shown an increase in travel volume and overnight visitor spending and that the economic impact of tourism in the state saves every family more than $600 per year in taxes.

Local trends continue to be positive: La Plata County showed a healthy increase in lodgers tax receipts last year, and the city of Durango is tracking up 7.1 percent year-to-date. The Durango/La Plata County Airport continues to see month-over-month growth, while attractions such as Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Mesa Verde National Park are holding their own.

DATO also looked at the demographic profile of visitors and researched the areas from which they come.

We reached out to many local businesses for their input to create a living, working document that reflects the local business environment.

The plan sets goals and remains flexible in strategies and tactics; this is reflected in the contingency funds set aside in the budget to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Our strategy is to share the plan with local businesses, successfully execute the tactics, measure the results and adjust as necessary.

Our office will use a mixture of marketing program strategies, including advertising, promotions, public relations, social media and our website.

We will be more active in pursuing groups and meetings and will continue to use both the Durango Welcome Center and the Visitor Center in Santa Rita Park to secure and promote tourism.

Firmly imbedded in this marketing plan is our goal to be the local and regional travel and tourism authority. We are building and strengthening partnerships and collaborations with tourism businesses and organizations. We pledge to be transparent and accountable while improving communication and deliverables with our stakeholders.

In short, we intend to be the premier direct-marketing organization in the nation. If you live here and understand what we have to “sell,” you know that this in an achievable goal.

oylerkk@gmail.com. Kris Oyler is chairman of the Durango Area Tourism Office board of directors.

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