ACRA taking next step in responsible tourism campaign |

ACRA taking next step in responsible tourism campaign

Aspen’s chamber association hires international group to help with finding harmony among tourists, locals

In an effort to continue the responsible tourism initiative started in 2018, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association announced Tuesday it has hired an international company to help with its next push.

The Vancouver-based Destination Think! was picked among the three finalists to help develop a campaign to continue to attract visitors to Aspen and educate them along the way.

ACRA’s educational campaigns in the past four years include “How To Aspen,” the ”Aspen Pledge” and “Tag Responsibly.” The sustainable/responsible tourism initiatives started after nine people died hiking and climbing around the Aspen area in 2017, including five deaths on the 14,130-foot Capitol Peak, as well as the influx of residents to Colorado.

Eliza Voss, ACRA’s vice president for destination marketing, said Tuesday this next effort will look for the harmony between “protecting the quality of life for our residents while also preserving the very reason people enjoy coming to our destination.”

The process will take about six months to develop and will include surveys and town halls so residents can weigh in on how the town should be represented and promoted to a variety of tourists, she said. ACRA is spending $123,000 on the one-year contract with Destination Think!.

Chamber officials stressed that after the series of visitor-facing education campaigns, this next step will be about talking with the community, and the tourism management style is about thinking versus marketing.

“As a sophisticated destination, it’s critical that we avoid the residential rebellions that we’re seeing in other destinations, and our residents are a key part of that,” Voss said. “We’re going to assess the current state of our tourism economy and work in partnership with the community to proactively map the marketing and management of the area into the future.”

Destination Think!, which has offices around the world, started 11 years ago and also is working with the state of Colorado’s tourism office on projects. Some other clients over the past decade include Travel Oregon, Visit California, European Travel Commission, Copenhagen, Bermuda Tourism Authority and Tourism Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

“It’s our specialty working and consulting to destination (markets), and we seem to be developing a sub-specialty in mountain communities that are wrestling with similar challenges that (Aspen is),” CEO Rodney Payne said.

Their four-year plan in Copenhagen — titled “The End of Tourism” — drew notice for its approach to the tourism and the locals.

“What we were really trying to say is that Copenhagen doesn’t want to host tourists any more, they want to host ‘temporary locals,’” William Bakker, Destination Think! chief strategist and partner, said of that campaign. “Because the disruptive nature of some of the tourists in European cities, (we) really wanted them internally to make a mind shift to ‘OK, we’re not going to call these people tourists anymore. We’re going to call them temporary locals, we’re going to treat them like temporary locals and we want them to act like temporary locals.’”

The six-month process in Aspen will start next week, and full-on engagement with stakeholders and the community will start near the end of July, Voss said.


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