Tourists are pumped for promotion
September 1, 2006
Aspen’s got gas, and some tourists love it.The “Aspen’s Got Free Gas” promotion by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association has produced about $50,000 in bookings at lodging properties so far this summer, according to chamber president and chief executive officer Debbie Braun.The promotion is in its third year. Tourists who book at least two nights through Stay Aspen Snowmass, the central bookings agency, get a voucher for up to $50 of gas at the Aspen Store.Some Aspenites have criticized the program as hypocritical because the town is trying to be a leader in reducing global warming. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. Critics contend Aspen shouldn’t urge visitors to drive.But research shows that’s already happening. Two-thirds of the town’s summer visitors arrive by vehicle, according to Braun. The chamber is simply trying to capitalize on a situation that already exists, she said. By offering free gas, the chamber might be enticing some of those tourists to stay a couple of nights rather than just day tripping through.The program also encourages tourists to ditch their vehicles once they arrive for a vacation, Braun noted. The promotion gives them two free passes on a Roaring Fork Transportation Agency bus to the Maroon Bells and free bicycle rentals for two.”Leave your car at the hotel, save that gas voucher for getting home, and let RFTA get you where you need to go,” ACRA’s website says via a link to the Aspen’s Got Free Gas program.Despite the success of the promotion, it will probably end for good on Oct. 15, according to Braun. The criticism on environmental grounds has nothing to do with the decision to scrap it, she said. It’s simply time to try something new.”I think it’s run its shelf life,” Braun said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.