Editorial: CRAFTing local tourism | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: CRAFTing local tourism

As the Moffat County Tourism Association works toward spotlighting and promoting Northwest Colorado's numerous tourist attractions, we were thrilled to learn last week that the county has been awarded a Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism, or CRAFT, technical assistance support grant in the first round of the CRAFT Studio 101 initiative.

MCTA applied for the grant in partnership with Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership.

CRAFT Studio 101 is a 12-week, comprehensive training program provided to select rural communities that are in the beginning stages of building tourism into a viable and sustainable economic strategy.

The CRAFT grant will bring six full-day training workshops to Craig in September, October, and November, as well as provide $10,000 to help with implementation of strategies developed during the workshops. According to MCTA Director Tom Kleinschnitz, winning the grant represents a tremendous opportunity for the county to develop new tourism opportunities and better capitalize on those already in existence.

"This technical assistance will help us to grow our tourism operations, as well as understand, as a community, the importance of visitor readiness and what being a gateway community looks like." Kleinschnitz told the Craig Press in early August. "Moffat County is in a prime position to be taking advantage of all of the opportunities that are available to us in our own backyard."

Citing western Moffat County's Sombrero Ranch as an example of a traditionally non-tourist business that has successfully tapped into the tourism angle, Kleinschnitz said there are many other such opportunities in the county, adding that the CRAFT grant should prove beneficial in development of those opportunities.

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To kick off the process, Jill Corbin, director of destination development for the Colorado Tourism Office, will be in Craig from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, to meet with MCTA, the CMEDP, and other parties interested in tourism to set the agenda for the six seminars, which will be held in September, October, and November.

Lunch will be provided for Tuesday's planning meeting, and everyone interested in expanding tourism in Moffat County is invited, but those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Kleinschnitz at tomk@moffatcounty.net.

The workshop days will deal with rural tourism, sustainable tourism, visitor readiness, marketing and social media, culinary and agritourism, and outdoor adventure tourism. Though more specific topics and times will be published later, dates for the workshops are Tuesday, Sept. 18; Thursday, Sept. 27; Tuesday, Oct. 9; Thursday, Oct. 25; Thursday, Nov. 8; and Friday, Nov. 16.

Kleinschnitz credited State Rep. Bob Rankin for championing additional resources for the rural development program at the CTO.

We feel this is a tremendous opportunity for Craig and Moffat County to set the stage for a thriving tourism industry into the future.

"The program will drive our community to take a comprehensive inventory of our assets, then look into the future and understand the opportunities for our county," Kleinschnitz said.

We agree completely.

As the energy industry continues to undergo sweeping changes, Moffat County will need to identify alternate paths to economic prosperity, and we feel tourism could be a major piece of our community's future prosperity.

We encourage those interested in the development of Moffat County tourism to attend Tuesday's meeting and participate in the subsequent workshops.

This is a great opportunity for our community.

Let's make the most of it.

Editorial Board

Renee Campbell, publisher

Jim Patterson, editor

Sheli Steele, advertising director

Tom Kleinschnitz, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.