A tourism-specific website to market Carbondale? | AspenTimes.com

A tourism-specific website to market Carbondale?

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – A website dedicated specifically to attracting potential visitors to Carbondale is the main goal behind a request for additional town funding to support the project, local tourism officials explained at a Tuesday Town Board work session.

“Right now, the website [www.carbondale.com] is totally chamber oriented, and really is more of a business directory,” said Bob Fullerton, chairman of the Tourism Council of Carbondale. “What it needs to do is represent the broader Carbondale community”

Added web designer Tom Kenyon, who also works with the tourism committee, “The goal is to create a better brand for Carbondale, and a strong web presence is critical to that.

“We do have a lot of traffic to the website, but it’s not saying ‘come to Carbondale.’ It’s not generating that emotional buying decision,” Kenyon said.

The Tourism Council is seeking a $20,000 subsidy from the town over the next three years, including some money this year, to support additional marketing efforts such as the new website design.

The request comes as revenues from the town’s 2 percent lodging tax are down about 35 percent this year compared to last year. The tourism fund is administered by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, under the Tourism Council’s direction.

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While budget adjustments have been made to deal with the decreased lodging tax funds, the stepped-up marketing effort would have been something the council would likely have sought additional funds for regardless, Kenyon said.

“This is probably something we would have come to you for, regardless of the economy,” he said. “We do feel this is the one entity that looks to make the best return on that dollar investment.”

The town has and continues to be bombarded with funding requests from a variety of organizations, even as the economy has taken a dive. Sales tax revenues for the town are down about 15 to 18 percent for the year, and town officials are tightening the reins on extra spending.

Recently, the town committed $30,000 to a local “mini-stimulus” business promotion designed to provide incentives for people to shop locally by offering prize drawings of various sorts.

Funding efforts to bring more people to town, who in turn spend money locally and generate business and tax revenues, also makes sense, most Town Board members agreed.

“It’s a question of whether we want to promote Carbondale,” Trustee John Foulkrod said. “And I think we do, and now is an important time to do it.”

Town Manager Tom Baker said there is about $17,000 in budgeted, but unspent, funds in the town’s general fund that could be put toward the requested tourism promotion. Another idea was to put some of the town’s re-established revolving loan funds toward tourism, which could then be paid back over time.

The tourism funding request will be discussed further at a regular town council meeting, and during the upcoming 2010 budget planning meetings.

Also included among the Tourism Council’s current marketing efforts are a monthly “ePostcard” sent to more than 3,450 people, and a monthly “Carbondale Base Camp” brochure distributed along the Front Range.

jstroud@postindependent.com