Glenwood proposes new tourism board
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The City Council has proposed creating a new city-appointed Tourism Board as a way to increase oversight of the city’s tourism marketing contract. The decision could mean the end of the current Tourism Board.
The council’s intention is to create a board that oversees the tourism promotion contract and that is not directly connected to the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, which has received the contract for the past 22 years.
The current Tourism Board was created in 2006 by the chamber as an autonomous board to provide fiscal oversight of the tourism promotion funds. The council retains authority and approves a detailed marketing plan and budget, by which the Tourism Board is required to abide.
However, most council members, including Mayor Bruce Christensen, thought more accountability and oversight were needed regarding the marketing contract.
“It’s not a very clear relationship where you have a vendor that is providing the service, and that vendor is being held accountable by a subcommittee of [itself],” Christensen said. “We’re just trying to make it so that it’s a much clearer line of accountability in terms of oversight of public funds.”
In a joint meeting between the current Tourism Board and City Council on June 3, the council called for an ordinance that would ultimately create a newly appointed board. The new board would operate much like the current board, but it would be cut from 12 members to nine, and would be a more diverse group of industry representatives and citizens overseeing the tourism marketing contract.
Potentially, the new board would consist of two members representing the lodging industry, two members representing the tourism industry (Glenwood Caverns, Hot Springs Pool, rafting, etc.), one member representing the chamber, one member representing the City Council, and three members would be “at-large” seats, of which citizens in general could be appointed.
“I would like to see representation on the board of people who don’t have a vested interest in how the advertising money is spent,” Christensen said.
The new board would also report directly to council – something to which current Tourism Board Chairman Steve Beckley was not opposed.
“I think that the Tourism Board agrees that that setup is the way to go,” Beckley told council at the June 3 meeting. “The Tourism Board – whoever they may be, they may all be different people than us, which is fine – should report directly to council.”
Beckley added that the new board should also be responsible for hiring the vendor of the marketing contract, overseeing the vendor and ensuring that the vendor performs as is required by the contract according to the City Council’s direction.
Up until 1988, the now-defunct City Tourism Commission used to oversee the administration of the funds and would hire an outside advertising agency to run the promotion campaign before the chamber took over the marketing contract.
This is the first step in what could be a long process of re-establishing the way in which the city allocates tourism funds and awards the marketing contract. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association has been awarded the contract on an annual basis for the past 22 years as a sole-source, no-bid contract. Council also brought up the option of a possible director that could ultimately be a city staff position or an independent contractor.
But if those issues will be addressed, they are issues that should be addressed by the new board, according to Christensen.
Creating this new board will – at the very least – address governance of the tourism board, according to chamber President and CEO Marianne Virgili.
“The chamber understands and appreciates council’s desire to be fiscally responsible with tax dollars,” Virgili said. “And we support council in their efforts.”
The council is awaiting the draft ordinance; after it is adopted, the city will advertise for applicants, several of whom could be current tourism board members. Christensen said that it could be two months before the new board is in place.
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