Tourism funding central to Senate race in District 5 | AspenTimes.com

Tourism funding central to Senate race in District 5

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily

EAGLE COUNTY — Colorado funds tourism to the tune of about $20 million per year. That's the basis for the latest question for the candidates for Senate District 5, which includes Pitkin County, in the Colorado Legislature:

Vail Daily: What could the Colorado Tourism Office do better to promote tourism in this region? What other forms of economic development assistance would you advocate for the district?

Kerry Donovan: Our natural surroundings are the reason many of us are proud to call Colorado home, and in 2013, they were largely the reason that 64.6 million visitors spent over $17 billion in our state hunting, fishing, skiing and rafting. These dollars are one of the reasons Colorado's economy continues to grow, but we must do more to make sure that the middle class is seeing the result of all this revenue so we can bring economic recovery to struggling communities.

The Colorado Tourism Office promotes the virtues of every corner of our state. For example, in 2012, Colorado pushed a new "agritourism" program modeled after the efforts of Senate District 5's Delta County, encouraging visitors to visit our farms, wineries and ranches. We became the first state in the nation with dedicated funding toward promotion of the heritage of our great state. As state senator, I will ensure that the Western Slope and Arkansas Valley are represented well in these efforts, and that our small businesses are able to grow as a result of them. 

This is impossible without the protection of our public lands. They are the backbone to our tourism economy and are the postcard-perfect backdrops to outdoor activities. I will work to ensure that our public lands stay public and that they're not pushed into private management, damaging our economy and hurting our small businesses.

Besides the support tourism provides our region, agricultural communities also need to be supported through informed water plans, and many towns need new industries that create year-round, full-time jobs. Broadband access can transform a town's ability to attract new businesses, and I will work to secure more consistent funding for these types of projects.

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As your state senator, I look forward to helping promote all our communities throughout western Colorado.

Don Suppes: The Colorado Office of Tourism is extremely important to Senate District 5. Many businesses in our district rely on tourism for their very survival. It is absolutely critical that we have a voice in the way Colorado tourism is marketed in and out of our great state.

As your next state senator, not only will I request to fill the spot on the board held by our current senator, but I will work closely with Director Al White to ensure we are getting the best possible exposure.

Our tourism industry will be stronger when we work together. This has been proven in the wine industry of western Colorado. When the wineries combined marketing efforts, the revenues improved because the area became the destination, not just a single place of business. This is the approach we need to take in all sectors of the tourism industry. Rather than a single focused campaign we need to draw people here for all the activities we have to offer; not just skiing and shopping, but hiking, fishing, agri-tourism, and more.

As your next state senator I will do everything I can to improve the economy as a whole. We need all sectors of the economy to be successful in this district. As a business owner I know when tourism, agriculture and industry are all performing well, everyone's bottom line is better.

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