Towns agree on tourism traits

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Northwest Colorado residents are discovering what they have in common after four day-long workshops and three days of touring Northwest Colorado -- and they hope those commonalities will bring tourists running.

Friday and Saturday's "Share Your Heritage" conference, attended by those wanting to forward Northwest Colorado's Cultural Heritage tour, allowed those people to narrow down the themes they'd found in touring 10 communities.

Rising to the top were people, place and power.

"They'll likely need to be refined down the road," said Winnie DelliQuadri of the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council.

"People" includes pioneer women, founding families, ranchers, American Indians and towns' developers.

"Places" includes the land -- the area's scenic vistas, wildlife and nature.

"Power" covers all of North--west Colorado's natural resources and the efforts that have been made throughout history to extract them.

"We're definitely a part of (the themes identified). They're definitely weaved through every community," Craig resident Tammie Thompson said. "Places covers that unspoiled vastness we have here, and that's in every community."

After identifying the predominant things, participants mapped them to determine trails, corridors and possible trips.

"One of the things we found is everything is in various states of visitor readiness," DelliQuadri said.

One of the area's most noticeable deficiencies, she said, is in interpretive and way-finding signs.

Now that themes have been narrowed, it's up to each community to determine what attributes they have to fit in those themes and what will be needed to get those attributes "visitor-ready."

Beyond that, DelliQuadri said the group will have to wait until the consultants compile the information from the conference into a report. Then, a committee will meet to determine where to go from there.

"One of the things we heard loud and clear is that we need to spread the word and get buy-in," she said.

Participants will go back to officials in their communities to "sell" the concept of cultural heritage tourism.

"The speakers had a wealth of information," said Steve Miller, director of advertising and marketing for the Moffat County Tourism Association. "It helped us cast and confirm our vision. I got a lot out of it."

Miller said it was a challenge to get 10 communities and 30 people on the same page.

He'll continue working on what Craig has to offer to the cultural heritage tourist.

"We're going to have to put our heads together to see what we have," he said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done to make things visitor-ready."

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