Ever wonder how tourism benefits the City of Durango, La Plata County, and its residents?

With National Travel and Tourism Week in full swing, lots of people are discussing the importance of tourism. More specifically, what are the economic impacts of tourism? How does tourism contribute to job creation? What’s the impact on the tax system? How does tourism attract new residents?

Tourism is a hot topic in our La Plata County community. Considering how prevalent visitors are in hotels and restaurants, on the trails, and elsewhere, it’s clear that tourism is a huge part of our local economy.

Here are four ways tourism impacts the local economy and why we should continue to invite visitors to come to Durango and La Plata County:

#1 Contribution to Durango and La Plata County’s tax revenue

In Durango-alone, tourism makes up a ⅓ of the city’s annual tax revenue

Visitors spending money on everything from lodging to restaurants drives revenue straight into the community from both sales and lodgers tax. Not only are these taxes reinvested into the local school system, but also into transportation, social services, and more.

It’s no surprise that the reinvested tax revenue betters the community in dozens of ways. Just related to the tourism industry, the reinvested tax revenue can be used to upgrade parks, maintain and expand trail networks, as well as provide funding programs for local small businesses.

Tourism pumps money into the tax system, which is reinvested to support local services and businesses -- increasing tourism and contributing more to the tax revenue.

This “positive feedback loop” even has a name: “The Halo Effect.” Tourism not only increases visitation but also drives “business development, real estate sales, purchases of second homes, and even college recruitment.”

The “Halo Effect” can benefit the local economy and community for years.

#2 Job creation

One of the most obvious benefits of tourism is job creation. In fact, tourism is the largest sector of the economy in La Plata County. Here’s a quick breakdown of the distribution of jobs by industry:

  • Tourism: 30%
  • Households: 26%
  • Regional services:  20%
  • Government: 12%
  • Agribusiness: 8%
  • Mining: 3%

The biggest takeaway: tourism is the largest industry in the county and creates the highest number of jobs.

The World Travel & Tourism Council expects tourism-related jobs to increase 2.5% nationally from 2017-2027 over the next seven years and by 2027, tourism will account for 11.3% of total employment in the United States.

This means that tourism-related jobs in Durango and La Plata County will continue to grow -- making it an even stronger source of employment in the coming years.

#3 Recruits additional investment

The “Halo Effect” can be found in multiple places -- one of which is an outside investment into the local community.

As tourism creates more tax revenue and jobs, outside investors tend to want to jump while it’s hot -- bringing additional restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and more with them.

This, of course, pumps more tax revenue into the system and creates more jobs. 

Seeing a pattern?

Nationally, the tourism industry is expected to attract an additional $73.4 billion in investments by 2027.

On a smaller scale, tourism can excite local community members to create businesses that support the industry -- in the form of an Airbnb, retail store, restaurant, etc.

Not only do additional investments create jobs and tax revenue but it directly impacts the visitors themselves. Additional places to stay, restaurants, and stores give travelers more things to do in Durango and La Plata County which encourages them to visit time-and-time again.

Plain and simple, tourism encourages investment from both outside investors and local residents.

#4 Recruits future residents (and taxpayers)

As tourism is set to increase, the workforce in Durango and La Plata County will need residents to fill new jobs. As the demand for fresh talent increases, new positions will be filled by both local residents and workers outside of the community.

As tourism increases, so will the need for outside workers.

When new individuals relocate to Durango and La Plata County to fill tourism-related jobs, they enter the housing market, shop at local stores, and pump money into the local tax system, which increases tax revenue, potential investments, and creates more jobs -- another example of the “Halo Effect.”

More residents from tourism = positive impacts on the local economy.

Why tourism should continue to be a priority:

Tourism isn’t going anywhere. As mentioned before, tourism accounts for 30% of La Plata County’s economy, and tourism is only going to increase.

Apart from some of the reasons I’ve mentioned above, tourism can actually foster environmental sustainability, as visitation to wilderness areas increases, this also generates demand for preservation and conservation.

Tourism touches multiple aspects of the local community and may even better the lives of our furry-forest-friends.

Despite the occasional hurdle (COVID-19 for one), tourism will remain the largest contributor to our local economy and community.

How you can support our tourism industry:

Come and visit!

Visiting Durango and La Plata County is the best way to support the tourism industry -- no-brainer there! 

During your visit, take advantage of our restaurant and bar scene, trails, outdoor guides and outfitters, and the nice comfy beds at our hotels; don’t forget ice cream too!

Promote our community to your family and friends

During or after your visit, tell your family and friends about your time in Durango and La Plata County. Pictures and stories go a long way to bring new visitors to our community. For locals, invite visitors to join you this season for some outdoor fun!

If you’re local, consider a stay-cation

For those who call Durango and La Plata County home, supporting tourism is done every day. Outside of your day-to-day, if you’re planning on traveling for a vacation, consider taking a stay-cation instead! With so many amenities, our community offers more things to do than one could do in a lifetime!


National Travel and Tourism Week always incites conversations centered on the role of tourism and how it benefits the economy. In Durango and La Plata County, tourism is an integral role in creating tax revenue, creating jobs, recruiting investments and new residents. 

Luckily, tourism in our area isn’t going away any time soon. When the pandemic is over, tourism is one of the most effective ways to boost the economy. By continuing to promote and encourage tourism and managing sustainable growth for our region, we will support the local economy for years to come.