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Visit Durango looks bad in recent tourism column

Saturday’s “Tourism Effect” column (July 24, “Myth-busting Durango’s tourism industry“) is not a good look for Visit Durango.

In it, Rachel Brown – executive director of the organization – mounts a sophomoric defense of ballot measure 1-A (lodgers tax increase) and of Visit Durango. Unfortunately, it leaves the impression that Visit Durango is an organization whose mission seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – that without it, tourists will disappear! And that Visit Durango alone can fix it.

In trying to dispel “rumors” and “misinformation” regarding 1-A, Brown doubled down on long-standing assertions. And given the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of its “sustainable tourism” campaigns with meaningful metrics, all she could do is tell readers that “sustainable tourism” is “real.” Oh, my.

Window dressing is real, too, and it's worth about as much. Readers will recall that “sustainable tourism” was championed in 1-A marketing and was meant to assuage Durangoans who are concerned that the deleterious effects of unchecked tourism in and around Durango are catching up with us.

I voted against 1-A not because I “believe tourism does nothing for our community” as Brown asserts; rather, I think the biggest slice of revenue from the lodgers tax should go toward transportation, arts, cultural programs and damage control for public lands misuse. A much smaller slice of revenue should be dedicated to Visit Durango’s clickbait tourism marketing and adverts. I suspect many “dissenters” of the increase arrived at their decision in much the same way.

Tenny Webster