It is a common myth that tourism marketing promotes only tourism.
In a recent study of tourism campaigns in nine states, the research firm of Longwoods International demonstrated how each state’s tourism promotion campaign created a “halo effect,” lifting not only visitorship but driving business development, real estate sales, purchase of second homes and even college recruitment.
When combined with an actual visit, the impact of tourism marketing on all these activities was even more magnified.
How often do we hear that someone came here as a visitor and later became a resident?
With its moderate climate, natural beauty and recreational amenities, Colorado is a great place to visit, to return to, to live, to start a business, to advance a career, to raise a family, to attend college, to purchase a vacation home or to retire. These relocations often are made because a person was first introduced to the area by tourism marketing.
Colorado has been growing. According to the state census, the population has grown by 50 percent over the last 20 years and is projected to keep growing.
I’ll use myself as an example of the halo effect of tourism marketing. Growing up in the Midwest in the late 1960s, I mailed away for Colorado ski brochures and travel guides. The Centennial State promised blue skies, the Rocky Mountains and an energetic vibe. I vacationed here in 1970 and found Colorado to be “as promised” and even more. I moved to Denver in 1971.
Since then, I’ve rented, bought and built houses. I met my wife in Denver (a Lubbock, Texas, girl whose family vacationed in Colorado) and we raised two kids, sending both of them to Colorado colleges. Both of us have started businesses. We have a second home in Denver. And we’ll retire here. That’s long-term economic impact that started with a ski brochure.
The Colorado Tourism Office in Denver is a division of the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, thus underscoring that tourism as a key driver of economic development.
Because this area is an aspirational destination for so many reasons, the tourist of today may very likely become a future college student, working resident, investor, second-home buyer or retiree.
Does this mean too much growth for our area? State statistics show 80 percent of Colorado’s population lives along the Interstate 25 and Interstate 70 corridors.
Durango is well off the beaten path. Access is limited to rural highways and a growing regional airport. The years of marketing Durango has helped build our lodging and hospitality industry and many of the recreational amenities we locals enjoy. Additionally, the halo effect of our tourism marketing has helped attract college students, business startups, second-home buyers retirees … and maybe even you.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.