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Visit Durango survey seeks input from residents about its 2022 activities

Organization received about 250 responses as of earlier this week

Visit Durango, the area tourism office, launched its annual resident sentiment survey for input from locals on tourism and its impacts in 2022. The survey is open until Jan. 31 and seeks input about what tourism activities worked in 2022 and what efforts should be focused on going forward.

The survey is available online at bit.ly/3XJGB7L

The survey asks residents to score their feelings and experiences on topics and also quizzes respondents on their knowledge about where lodgers tax funds come from and where they are spent.

Rachel Brown, executive director of Visit Durango, said the tourism office had received at least 248 responses to its resident survey as of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, where she gave a report on third-quarter tourism activities. And she hopes many more responses will be submitted.

She said Durango’s tourism sentiment score, which gauges whether a destination “delivers on its promise,” is the first choice metric of measuring Visit Durango’s performance.

The tourism office’s tourism sentiment score ranked No. 29 globally and No. 1 in Colorado in the third quarter of last year, she said. And the score rose 33% last year from July through September in 2021.

She referenced a Southwest Economic Outlook Forum presentation by Nate Peach, an associate professor of economics at Fort Lewis College, and said the Durango area was somewhat shielded by the tourism industry from some gross domestic product declines brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But tourism will not continue to do as well as it has through the pandemic for a number of reasons,” she said.

In the third quarter, July through September, Visit Durango received 33,000 visitors at the Durango Welcome Center, according to a one-way door-counting device. About 3,810 visitors requested information about local services during their visit versus just walking in and meandering or using the restroom before departing.

Discussion about lodgers tax spending, 55% of which is allocated to tourism marketing, was brought up during Tuesday’s City Council study session. It was part of a larger conversation about whether to put 2023 lodgers tax allocations on the city’s April ballot.

Part of the discussion focused on funding for housing versus tourism marketing.

Councilor Jessika Buell said she isn’t sure diverting tourism funds to housing would have a significant impact on efforts to address the housing crisis and she wants more time to evaluate how current allocations are working.

“I want to take our time with this decision and really get the full picture of everything that this council wants to do and make a priority (with) how to fund it,” she said.

She said she supports a future cap on tourism marketing funds after more results and information can be reviewed. And she likes the idea of more flexible discretionary spending for City Council so it can react better to changing needs, whether they be tourism marketing, transportation, police services or other amenities.


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