Tourism is a multi-million dollar industry for Northern Colorado, and the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is continuing to innovate and expand tourism in the area – all while facing challenges of tight budgets, a sluggish economy and potential gas price increases this summer.
To help identify opportunities for tourism growth, the Fort Collins CVB worked with students from Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources during the past four months to conduct a destination audit covering Fort Collins and its periphery, Loveland and Estes Park. The tourism planning senior students presented their research findings and recommendations on April 26 to the Fort Collins CVB board, and representatives from the Downtown Business Association, Hilton Fort Collins, Marriott, Larimer County Parks and Open Lands, and other members of the business and tourism community.
The destination audit assesses the tourism sector for the region and identifies positive and negative aspects of the market using a combination of research methods. By looking at four distinct areas rather than Fort Collins alone, the study provides the Fort Collins CVB with both city-specific and regional, collaborative recommendations.
One of the presentation themes included the opportunity for improved transportation such as regional driving tours and improved transportation to Poudre Canyon, from the Harmony Corridor to Old Town, and from Fort Collins to Estes Park. Other themes included social media and mobile application integration, leveraging the region’s unparalleled natural resources, improving meeting and convention space, and the need for a large music venue in Fort Collins.
“This destination audit will be a source of inspiration for implementing tourism growth in the short term and as we look long-term over the next 10 years,” said Fort Collins CVB President and CEO Jim Clark. “The CVB is always working to present ideas for innovation and promote collaboration with businesses and other municipalities to put those ideas into motion.”
The semester-long service learning project was funded by TILT and the CVB and implemented as a central component of a tourism planning course, taught in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Warner College.
“This project links tourism planning and visitor experience opportunities to the needs of the Fort Collins CVB and the goals of a tourism planning capstone course,” said Stuart Cottrell, associate professor and global tourism coordinator. “Our class is proud of this collaborative project and looks forward to seeing some of the long-rang impacts it contributes to tourism in the region.”