Canyons & Plains Continues Work Under Restart Destination Program

 

 

The Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce (C&P) was approved to participate in the Colorado Tourism Office’s Restart Destinations Program in July 2021. This program includes a Destination Recovery Assessment, a full-day workshop, 75 hours of technical assistance, and direct marketing support.

The Destination Recovery Assessment included three core team planning meetings with local tourism leaders which identified priorities such as advancing new tourism opportunities, targeting repeat visitation, and championing the value of tourism and building awareness of the role of Canyons & Plains.

This assessment also included a visitor profile study, a resident sentiment survey, and a tourism stakeholder survey. The visitor profile identified key drive markets including Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Top points of interest included Bent’s Old Fort and the three Colorado State Parks in the Canyons & Plains Region.

Resident sentiment surveys in the C&P Region generated 373 responses from Trinidad, La Junta and Prowers County. Keys findings show that residents agree tourism is good for their communities, residents would like to see more visitors and would support more major events, and residents feel that wayfinding and signage need improvement.

The C&P Tourism Stakeholder survey generated 26 responses. Key findings of the survey indicated that visitation and revenue have recovered somewhat from pandemic levels. Ninety percent wanted more visitors year-round, more attractions and more events. Eighty percent indicated that out-of-state visitation is critical to their success. Seventy percent were aware of the efforts the C&P Taskforce. Top priorities identified were building local awareness of the value of tourism, developing new visitor experiences, promoting local businesses and activities, hosting new events, and increasing tourism to the region.

On December 14, 2022, C&P and the Colorado Tourism Office hosted a full-day workshop with 15 stakeholders at Fort Lyon. Key takeaways from the workshop include events take time and stress limited resources but are generally worth the investment to build the region’s reputation; increased visitor readiness is needed at attractions and experiences prior to active promotion; an opportunity exists to collaborate better on regional events; the cultural history buff niche audience currently being cultivated by C&P should be expanded to include natural history buffs.

Recommendations for action generated by the workshop include curate C&P itineraries to showcase local businesses and year-round experiences; update canyonsandplains.org with content about regional museums; continue the tour of Life Chronicles artwork (currently on display at the Trinidad Welcome Center); send a “welcome back” message to all who attended the Bicentennial Santa Fe Trail Symposium in La Junta last year; champion the value of tourism through communications and presentations; apply for state and federal grants for further funds.

Canyons & Plains is now receiving 75 hours of free technical assistance from a mentor to craft marketing assets such as itineraries and stories; expand outreach resources to build C&P awareness; develop abstracts for on-line presentation of the Life Chronicles artwork; and create a “welcome back” campaign to attendees at Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial events.

If you would like to receive the full summary report for the C&P Restart Destinations Program, submit a request at canyonsandplains@gmail.com.   For more information on Canyons & Plains, visit www.canyonsandplains.org.

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