Cultural heritage tourism explored
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A new plan to attract tourists to Northwest Colorado focuses less on the region’s natural landscape and more on the human landscape.
Judy Walden, president of the Walden Mills Group, discussed cultural heritage tourism with a few dozen local business and non-profit leaders at Thursday’s Economic Summit of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
“This is a new kind of tourism that attracts people who are interested in our unique culture,” Walden said.
Walden has worked as a consultant on Northwest Colorado’s cultural heritage tourism initiative, which includes communities in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.
At Thursday’s summit, Walden said cultural heritage tourism will attract older people who are well-educated, have more money than the average tourist and want to do tourism their own way.
“These people are looking to connect with authenticity,” Walden said.
Because these tourists are not looking for skiing or mountain biking, Walden said a higher percentage of them will visit the region in the fall than other tourists.
Because these tourists are interested in the people and culture in the place they visit, Walden said it is less likely to have some of the negative effects tourism often has.
Cultural heritage tourism will involve tourists who “appreciate what you are, what you’ve got and are willing to pay a fair price for it,” Walden said.
This could mean bringing tourism to places and people who never thought about it.
“We have to find out what we have to do to get these communities visitor ready,” Walden said.
Craig artist Bernie Rose, who is involved in the cultural heritage tourism project and attended the Economic Summit, said this could mean landowners attracting tourists to their property.
“A private landowner who has petroglyphs on his land could charge tourists to come look at them,” Rose said.
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