Carbondale tourism funds lagging, town subsidy sought | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale tourism funds lagging, town subsidy sought

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Tourism Council of Carbondale is seeking a $20,000 subsidy from the town over the next three years to support marketing efforts, including web-based and special event promotions.

Revenues from a 2 percent lodging tax approved by town voters in 2003 have lagged somewhat this year due to the recession, including a 45 percent drop in May, according to a report to the Carbondale Board of Trustees.

The request for additional town funding will be discussed during a town board work session Tuesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Carbondale Town Hall.

The town’s tourism fund, which is administered by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, is expected to bring in about $30,000 less this year, which would represent a more than 35 percent decrease.

Two years ago, the lodging tax brought in more than $86,000. That figure is expected to drop to about $57,000 this year, according to the latest projections.

Total revenues, including income from ads sold on the website and at the scenic overlook kiosk on Highway 82, are expected to come in around $110,000, about $22,000 less than the original budget for 2009.

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As a result, the Tourism Council has adjusted its spending budget but is still looking at a deficit of about $11,433 for the remainder of this year, according to Sherri Harrison, executive director for the chamber.

“We’re looking for this [subsidy] to be spread over a three-year program,” she said. “Our first goal is to do some major improvements to the website and make it more appealing to people who are looking to visit Carbondale, and to make it more beneficial for our business members.”

An improved website is also expected to increase web-based revenue potential, Harrison said.

The downturn in the local lodging industry is related mostly to the construction downturn, since many of the local hotel rooms have typically been occupied by construction workers.

“We’re also hoping to get those beds full again with a different kind of visitor,” Harrison said.

“In the current economy many travelers are staying closer to home and seeking out activities with little or no cost, and Carbondale is a prime example of that type of destination,” she wrote in the memo to the town board.

Included among the Tourism Council’s current marketing efforts are a monthly “ePostcard” sent to more than 3,450 people; a monthly “Carbondale Base Camp” brochure distributed along the Front Range; a presence at Colorado.com; and promotion of several local events outside the area.

jstroud@postindependent.com