MCTA hosts special visitor center workshop
In an attempt to get a stronger grasp on the money it spends, the Moffat County Tourism Association hosted a special meeting Tuesday with representatives from two local visitor centers, both of which the tourism group funds annually.
MCTA wanted more information about how the Moffat County Visitor Center, owned by the Craig Chamber of Commerce, and the Dinosaur Welcome Center use MCTA’s money.
Melody Villard, MCTA board president, said her group recently started planning its 2010 budget, and visitor centers are a hefty portion: both cost more than $30,000 this year, almost 20 percent of MCTA’s budget.
Board members for the tourism group said they walked away from the meeting feeling good about their partnerships with other local groups, including the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber executive director Christina Currie said the Moffat County Visitor Center and its sportsman’s information center only exist because of the Chamber’s partnerships with local organizations and government offices.
That list includes MCTA, which paid $23,369 – or 45 percent of operations – in 2009; Colorado Division of Wildlife, which paid $15,000 in 2009; and the Bureau of Land Management, which paid $5,000 this year.
“Chamber memberships just aren’t set up to fund a Visitor Center, so we need partners to help us do that,” Currie said.
The Chamber and MCTA have had differences in the past, most notably in late 2007, when the two organizations disagreed about how much the tourism group should fund the Visitor Center.
Although this week’s meeting was about the money MCTA pays for the Visitor Center, Patt McCaffrey, MCTA board vice chair, said the workshop was a far cry from the dispute a year and a half ago.
“We’re working together in a partnership to make sure the visitors are getting the biggest bang for their buck,” she said. “We want to make sure we can increase the number of visitors each year.”
The MCTA board asked for more detailed information than Currie provided about how the Visitor Center runs.
Specifically, they wanted to know how many people call or visit and for what purpose, how much income the Chamber receives from merchandise sales and the Visitor Center’s staffing costs per phone call and walk-in visit.
Currie said she would get that information to the MCTA board as soon as she could.
The extra figures will help MCTA tailor its advertising campaigns to what most people are looking for, Villard said.
Chamber and MCTA officials also expressed concern that the DOW’s $15,000 allocation for 2010 may be in jeopardy because of a slump in hunting license sales last year.
However, Randy Hampton, DOW spokesman, said the Division will not cut its Visitor Center funding.
“It’s in the budget, and it was approved for the (2009-2010) fiscal year,” he said. “The Chamber just has to send us a bill.”
Cheryl McDonald, manager for the Dinosaur Welcome Center, also attended the meeting to explain how her office uses the $7,000 that MCTA provides each year.
Cindy Looper, MCTA treasurer, said the Welcome Center uses it to stay open each November for hunters and other tourists. The Colorado Tourism Office cut its allocation a few years ago, Looper said, so the Welcome Center partnered with MCTA to make up the difference.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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