Governor Polis’ call upon Colorado to “Be Bold” deeply inspired the agenda for this year’s Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, set just blocks from the state Capitol. This year’s conference theme, “C Further,” highlighted the industry’s innovation and aptitude to adopt bold, big ideas to better the tourism sector as well as the state as a whole.
“Colorado’s tourism industry is a national leader and that did not happen overnight. Our tourism industry’s vibrant health and its thoughtful reputation are direct results of the hard work of industry members from across our state,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’m delighted to see Colorado rising as the national leader in sustainable travel and as Governor and as a Coloradan, I recognize how important it is to ensure that our state’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the world are preserved for generations to come.” The Governor kicked off Tuesday’s luncheon session.
“The goal of this year’s conference was to generate thinking about ways our Colorado tourism industry can continue building our competitive edge while ensuring that our work continues to support Colorado’s extraordinary lifestyle,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. “Our conference agenda provided such a diversity of topics and inspired so many engaging discussions. I’m confident our attendees went home more prepared than ever to maximize the benefits of tourism for visitors and residents alike.”
This three-day conference, co-sponsored by VISIT DENVER, featured a variety of experts in well-attended breakout sessions and learning labs that focused on topics including cannabis and hemp tourism, outdoor adventure, marketing myths and utilizing electric vehicles to boost visitor spending in rural areas. Keynote sessions featured remarks from Jeremy Jauncey, founder and CEO of Beautiful Destinations, and a panel on the topic of tourism capacity featuring Frank Cuypers, senior strategic consultant of Destination Think!; Lucy Kay, president and CEO of the Breckenridge Tourism Office; and Dr. Nathan Reigner, Fulbright Arctic Scholar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iceland.
“With a 'tip of the hat' to Colorado's successful sustainable tourism initiatives, we are poised to go even further this year with new partnerships between the Colorado Tourism Office and Leave No Trace. These partnerships allow us to continue to reach every corner of our state with our Care For Colorado best practices,” said Courtney Frazier, chair of the Colorado Tourism Board and executive director of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association. “I want to encourage the industry to continue seeking out new ways to protect the integrity of Colorado resources through sustainable practices in the coming year.”
The annual awards dinner on Monday, Sept. 30 honored individuals and organizations that have greatly contributed to the advancement and innovation of Colorado’s tourism industry. The awards and winners are detailed below.
- The Colorado Tourism Office Board Chairman’s Award
is awarded to extraordinary individuals’ commitment to tourism in
Colorado. This year’s award was presented to Barb Bowman of Grand
Junction. Bowman helped lead Visit Grand Junction for 27 years, is a
former member of the Colorado Tourism Board and is the past president of
Tour Colorado and the Rotary Club of Grand Junction.
- The Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative Award is
presented to a community or region that has demonstrated excellence in a
tourism event, promotion or project. This year’s award recipient was
the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall.
- The award for Outstanding Sustainability Initiative, Project or Program—a new award this year—went to two recipients, Vail Resorts’ Commitment to Zero and the Hanging Lake Management Plan.
- The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Colorado Tourism
is presented to an individual to recognize his/her tireless
contributions to advancing the Colorado tourism industry. This award was
presented to Mary Ann Mahoney, CEO of the Boulder Convention and
- The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Marketing Program recognizes
an event or project undertaken by a community or region to promote
tourism in Colorado. This award went to the Colorado Historic Hot
Springs Loop marketing campaign.
- The Jack Snow Volunteer Award is
presented to an individual who selflessly dedicated time and energy to
furthering tourism in Colorado and bettering the visitor experience in
the state. This year’s award goes to William “Bill” L. Miller.
As the conference closed, the Colorado Tourism Office announced Snowmass as the host city of the 2020 Governor’s Colorado Tourism Conference held Sept. 16-18, 2020.