Bringing ’em in |

Bringing ’em in

Association pushes tourism for Moffat County

Josh Nichols

With the recent acquisition of a part-time sales coordinator, and a push to bring more convention groups to the area, the Moffat County Tourism Association hopes it will see an increase in the number of people who choose Northwest Colorado as a vacation destination.

The association’s effort includes a full-page ad in the Colorado Official State Vacation Guide to promote what the county has to offer.

“I definitely think it’s important we get the word out there,” said Mikki O’Brien, chairwoman of the association. “The wealth of outdoor activities we can offer people in this area is amazing.”

The full-page color ad in the Official State Vacation Guide cost $18,000, eating up much of the association’s advertising budget this year.

“The reason this is important is every tourist that comes to Colorado will be handed that magazine,” O’Brien said. “People can get them at all welcome centers, chambers of commerce and visitors centers in Colorado. It was a good chunk of our budget but it is a publication in which we need to be.”

O’Brien said a special telephone number is listed in the ad so people can call the Craig Chamber of Commerce for information.

When they call that number, the Chamber of Commerce knows the call is being made due to the advertisement.

“We will know how many people are looking at the advertisement,” she said. “It allows us to know if the money spent is worth it or not.”

The tourism association’s budget comes from a 1.9- percent lodgers tax in Moffat County.

From every hotel room and campground site paid for in Moffat County, a 1.9- percent tax goes to the tourism association.

O’Brien said local hotels are expecting a good year for travellers coming to Moffat County.

Because of Sept. 11, she said she is expecting more in state travellers.

“We’ve been told travellers are staying in state this year and not flying as much,” she said. “That’s part of the reason we wanted to be included in the Official State Vacation Guide.”

The Moffat County Tourism Association also hired Steve Miller, a part-time sales and marketing director last year.

Miller is in charge of luring conventions, large groups and athletic events to Craig.

“Any group business is what he is after,” she said. “We want conventions that fill every room in town.”

Two conventions Miller has booked for 2003 include the state VFW convention and the state firefighters convention.

O’Brien said summer tourism in Moffat County during the summer is improving.

“Summers are getting to be better than hunting season,” she said. “Outdoor activities are getting people here, including horseback riding, fishing and biking.”

Summer tourism has improved to a point where O’Brien said a bad hunting season as a result of the recent chronic wasting disease discovery south of Hayden would not be as disastrous to the local economy as many people think.

“It definitely would hurt a little but hunting hasn’t been what it’s been in the past the last few years,” she said. “We’re getting more in state hunters who don’t stay as long.”

Annual events like Grand Olde West Days and Octoberfest, to which the tourism association donates money, continue to grow, O’Brien said.

“We weren’t able to fund every event that asked for money this year,” she said. “We’re excited about that. Grand Olde West Days made the smallest request ever because they don’t need us anymore.”

Cathy Vanatta, director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said she expects a good summer for tourism in Moffat County.

She agreed that many Colorado residents would be staying in state.

“I think this year tourism will be up,” she said.

“A lot of people will be travelling by car and staying in state. That will be good for us.”

Vanatta said having a tourism association benefits the community.

“I was excited to see they had a special lodging tax that was put toward tourism when I moved here,” she said. “It’s good we (Chamber of Commerce) can network and work together on things.”

There’s always a need to promote tourism, O’Brien said.

“Until the hotels are 100 percent occupied, there is still room to grow,” she said. “I definitely think we’re getting the word out there.”

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