Tourism is a hot topic in Durango! And for good reason; tourism is the largest industry of La Plata County’s economy. For Durango, tourism is a positive contributor to multiple facets of this amazing place we call home.
Visit Durango is raising awareness of the benefits of tourism to our community. You too can help spread the word that #TourismSupportsDurango!
The most discussed topic surrounding tourism is its benefit to the economy.
Locally, in Durango, 1/4 jobs are held in the tourism industry. Looking at La Plata County, tourism is the number one job creator, providing about 6,000 total jobs for residents.
These jobs include everything from service and lodging staff to management. Many local leaders started their careers in entry-level positions as housekeepers, bus drivers, bartenders, etc. and are now managing hotels, leading nonprofits, and hold some of the most prestigious jobs in Southwest Colorado.
62% of purchases at shops are from visitors
48% of revenues at restaurants and bars are from visitors
51% of purchases at art galleries, live performance ticket buyers, and other patrons of the art, are visitors
74% of ticket purchases for attractions are visitors
77% of outdoor recreation groups like skiers, river trippers, and guests of guided fishing tours are visitors
Locally, in Durango, every dollar that is spent by tourists yields $28 of economic impact across the entire economy.
This positive feedback loop is even given the name: “the halo effect,” and is a well-documented driver of economic growth in Colorado.
For La Plata County tourism, “the halo effect” means that the improved image of the Durango area, as a destination, from its promotional marketing efforts, has an impact beyond the direct spend of a resulting visit.
In combination, destination marketing PLUS actual visitation to the destination result in significant image lift for a destination in the following categories:
A good place to live
A good place to start a business
A good place to start a career
A good place to attend college
A good place to retire
A good place to purchase a home
The advantages of tourism go beyond just creating jobs and business opportunities.
Visitors account for 1/3 of City sales tax revenues. Reinvested tax revenues better the community in countless ways, including upgrading parks, maintaining and expanding trail networks, providing funding programs for local small businesses, and much more.
Building off of the “halo effect,” tourism also recruits outside investment. As tourism creates additional demand, outside investors bring additional restaurants, retail stores, and more, with them. This, in turn, brings more tax revenue into the system and creates additional economic benefits and jobs.
The future is also looking bright for outside investment. Nationally, the tourism industry is expected to attract an additional $73.4 billion in investments by 2027.
A common misconception of tourism is the negative effect on the environment and the ecological balance of resources. This, of course, is a real concern- we have seen cautionary tales from around the globe and even within the Colorado mountain town destination community. Unmanaged tourism can place a burden on the local flora and fauna and the host community.
If we “head it off at the pass,” tourism and proper management of a destination can actually foster environmental sustainability. Durango is being proactive and keeping tourism in check by demanding preservation and conservation.
Fortunately for Durango, we have incredible nonprofits, organizations, and community leaders who are determined to manage tourism and promote sustainable growth.
Visit Durango is part of this mission, as well, and is dedicating nearly 40% of our resources, staff time, and programs to building stewardship programs around sustainable and responsible tourism.
Without tourism, Visit Durango and our local government would not have the resources to properly address sustainability and conservation.
Tourism is not the only thing that has an impact in making Durango an incredible place to live and play. Across all sectors- there are amazing people doing amazing things. The travel industry is just a part of the “equation” of Durango’s success.
Visitation is Durango’s “lowest hanging fruit” to get tax revenue in the door and further the economic diversification of our town. Tourism will ultimately help us build bigger and better things within the city limits.
Tourism is an essential step in growing Durango’s economic development, protecting its future, and fostering a positive environment for future generations.
Supporting Durango’s local businesses, organizations, and activities is the best way to support the tourism industry-- no-brainer there!
Take advantage of our restaurant and bar scene, trails, outdoor guides and outfitters, and the nice comfy beds at our hotels; don’t forget some locally-made chocolate for dessert!
Tell your family and friends about your time in Durango. Pictures and stories go a long way to bring new visitors to our community. As locals, invite visitors to join you this season for some outdoor fun!
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!
We’ve listed only a few contributions that tourism offers the Durango community.
The biggest questions we should be asking ourselves are:
How to manage tourism in a sustainable manner and,
How to best reinvest tourism-produced funds to insure economic diversification happens to not “pigeon-hole” Durango into being 100% dependent on tourism
These are much better questions to ask than, “how do we stop tourists from coming?”
By continuing to promote and encourage tourism and managing sustainable growth for our region, we will support the local economy and Durango for years to come.