This Moffat County display stands in the Yampa Valley Regional Airport baggage claim area, next to empty brochure racks and a blank television screen. Local representatives from the Moffat County Tourism Association and the Craig Chamber of Commerce plan to work together to update and improve the section to attract airport-goers to Moffat County.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

This Moffat County display stands in the Yampa Valley Regional Airport baggage claim area, next to empty brochure racks and a blank television screen. Local representatives from the Moffat County Tourism Association and the Craig Chamber of Commerce plan to work together to update and improve the section to attract airport-goers to Moffat County.

The tourist hub

YVRA seen as prime tool to promote Moffat County tourism

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— John Ponikvar went to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden last weekend.

He was not flying or picking up anyone.

He went as a Moffat County Tourism Association board member.

The airport could be extremely valuable to Moffat County tourism, just as it is valuable to Steamboat Springs, Ponikvar said.

"Studies show people come to Steamboat for seven-day visits," Ponikvar said. "Generally, they only ski three to four days. We have the ability to market to those people and give them something to do in their free time."

Hunters will fly into Hayden, also, he said. And though hunters have a set agenda of what they're looking for, if they knew what else was available, they might come back at a different time of the year. And they might be inclined to bring family along.

The current state at the airport's Moffat County Information Center is woefully unproductive in that regard, Ponikvar said.

"We're behind the gun," he said. "Planes start flying on Dec. 15, and we got nothing right now."

Under Moffat County's banner, the brochure racks are empty, and the television designed to play a short video of attractions is blank.

It only recently became that way, said Christina Currie, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director.

In 2007, MCTA ceased its contract with the Chamber to deliver brochures to regional welcome centers, restaurants and the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Then MCTA board member Gary Cook volunteered to deliver brochures. However, Cook resigned from the board in mid-2007.

Since then, there has not been an established delivery system, and brochures have not gone out.

Which is not a terrible thing considering the current brochures' quality, Currie said.

"They're not attractive, not user-friendly, not real usable," Currie said.

The Moffat County Visitor Center keeps brochures in stock because they are in demand, but the staff there always supplements what they hand out with specific advice, she added.

The MCTA board wholly agrees and has been working through much of the year to develop fresh brochures under the direction of departing director Shelly Flannery, who plans to effectively resign Jan. 31.

"That project is going to be a dual project with the Chamber," MCTA board president Tammie Thompson-Booker said.

MCTA budgeted for a new dining and lodging guide in 2008, which is still scheduled to run, Thompson-Booker said. There also is a $2,400 line item for brochure distribution.

The MCTA board expects to see a dining and lodging guide proof copy supplied by the Print Shop at its Jan. 16 meeting.

The agency plans to order a first run of 15,000 copies.

Flannery applied for a $15,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office in December, which included $9,000 earmarked for maps and brochures. MCTA will match $17,000 to the $15,000 grant.

An answer from Colorado Tourism is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2008, possibly April, MCTA board member Cindy Looper said.

A yes would mean MCTA could move forward with various projects under consideration by the brochure committee, presently made up by Looper and Currie.

"The dining and lodging guide is out of their budget," Currie said. "What we really need is an attraction guide. Whatever people ask about, we need to do whatever we can to have something on it."

Including Browns Park, Sandwash Basin, fishing and boating and scenic tours.

"Ned Miller (Visitor Center sportsmen's information specialist) devised three really scenic day-trip drives that start in Craig, loop around and end in Craig," Currie said.

The brochure committee plans to combine different attractions together in the same brochures, Looper said.

MCTA also is working on creating a new video presentation, because Chamber and MCTA officials agree the old video is "way out of date."

A new short movie would show contemporary presentations of Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur as well as several of the previously mentioned attractions around Moffat County.

The current video system also is obsolete, Currie said.

It's a VHS tape player, which means someone has to physically be there to rewind it and play it again all day, she said.

Plans are in the works to buy a new television and put the new movie on a system that will automatically loop the video.

Finally, MCTA and the Chamber will begin negotiating contracts for two desk people to hand out Moffat County information throughout the year.

Both entities are working with the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce to use two Hayden women who already run the information center for Steamboat during ski season.

The women have said they would be glad to support Moffat County and work the extra seasons, Currie said.

The airport is seen as a key factor in promoting tourism, and plans are to work together to see it happen.

"Each one - MCTA, the Chamber and (Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership) - has a stake in this," Ponikvar said. "Anyone of the three organizations can use that area and should use that area.

"I think that's a great opportunity."

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