Scouting new territory for cultural heritage tourism

Cultural heritage tourism isn't just this year's buzzword -- it's a concept that, properly executed, has the potential to increase an area's quality of life as well as sales-tax revenue.

Those interested in the concept intend to prove it. A group of 10 people met Thursday to discuss how to measure the effects of such tourism.

Cultural heritage tourists are looking for a vacation they can touch -- even participate in. They're not looking to be entertained, they're looking to be educated -- to feel connected to history.

Representatives from 10 communities in Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties have formed steering committees to determine what their areas offer the cultural heritage tourist. All steering committees have met once to work on connecting those assets and will meet again in June to work on solidifying specific experiences.

On Thursday, though, the goal was to determine what effect cultural heritage tourism can have on a community and how that effect can be measured.

"How will we know when we've made a success of this program?" Yampa Valley Partners Exec-utive Director Audrey Danner asked the group.

One goal, participants said, is to increase both civic pride and regional pride.

"To be successfully individually, we're better off working together," Yampa Valley Economic Devel-opment Council staffperson Winnie DelliQuadri said. "You can do more if you can do it re-gionally."

The group was asked to identify indicators that are understandable, reliable, can be measured year to year and are regional.

That list includes jobs created and the number of location-neutral businesses created.

Thursday's group was scouting new territory.

Although there are several cultural heritage tourism programs nationwide, none of them track effect -- or even know where to start in some cases.

Danner said she talked to state Historical Society personnel, asking for advice about what direction to go and was told no one had listed and tracked indicators for a cultural heritage tourism program's effect.

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