Big changes and big plans for Moffat County Tourism Association | CraigDailyPress.com

Big changes and big plans for Moffat County Tourism Association

Patrick Kelly

Tom Kleinschnitz, Moffat County Tourism Association's new executive director, has an extensive history working in the tourism industry.

For the first time since its founding in 1989, the Moffat County Tourism Association has a full-time director.

Previously, Melody Villard ran operations for the taxing entity as a part-time executive director but upon her retirement MCTA's board has hired Tom Kleinschnitz.

Kleinschnitz has owned a river outfitting business, Adventure Bound River Expeditions, that operates in western Colorado and Eastern Utah for about 31 years, he said.

In addition to his private venture, Kleinschnitz has also served numerous tourism-related entities, including president of the Utah Guides and Outfitters Association, Chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, board member for the America Outdoors Association, board member for the Colorado Tourism Office.

"I think there's a huge opportunity on the horizon with MCTA and I think they've place the perfect replacement," previous MTCA executive director Melody Villard said.

As he steps into office, Kleinschnitz said his first priority is taking an inventory of the tourism resources currently available in Moffat County and promoting them.

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"My idea is that there's plenty of opportunities here," he said. "We've got an amazing amount of public lands. It's time to turn the corner and let the rest of Colorado and the country and, frankly, the planet know."

Kleinshnitz said his introduction with to the tourism industry began in Moffat County and he is enamored with the area.

"That wide-open country out there is what entrenched me in serving in outdoor recreation for an entire career," he said. "I just need to take that enthusiasm and put it out to the rest of the world."

MCTA is also leaving its space at the Centennial Mall and looking for a new main office in downtown Craig

Kleinschnitz said he wasn't part of the board's decision to leave the current location in the mall but it isn't the most accessible or attractive location.

"It's a tough place to bring people from out of town into and have them feel like we have a vibrant community," he said.

As part of the effort to revitalize the downtown Craig, MCTA is considering several locations in that area but has until the end of the year to decide before its current lease at the mall expires.

Last but not least, MCTA has gained support from the Craig City Council and Board of Moffat County Commissioners in seeking grants that would help promote Craig's premier events outside of the state.

The details of a 50-percent matching grant with the state tourism office are still being budgeted, but once applied for and if approved, it would provide MCTA with funding for promotiving events like Whittle the Wood, Grand Ole West Days, Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival and other festivities.

"We are looking at making sure we get all those events listed and have extra dollars to promote them," Kleinschnitz said.