Tourism board draws visitors to Grand County

photo by Tara Walker (L to R) Grand County Toursim Board - Ken Fosha (president), Karen Ruby (Marketing and Miles Media), Paul Lews (Fraser Valley board member), Gaylene Ore (public relations) and Dede Fay (sales and outreach).
photo by Tara Walker (L to R) Grand County Toursim Board - Ken Fosha (president), Karen Ruby (Marketing and Miles Media), Paul Lews (Fraser Valley board member), Gaylene Ore (public relations) and Dede Fay (sales and outreach).

by Tara Walker

Grand County’s Tourism Board’s mission is to promote and market all tourism resources of Grand County through cooperative countywide efforts. On August 15, the tourism board presented to the Board of County Commissioners how they are funded and their marketing tools.

The tourism board is supported by a lodging tax of 1.8%, collected from all lodging properties in Grand County except those within the town limits of Winter Park. Additional funding comes from grants and website advertising.

Dede Faye, administrator and sales director, has been working for the Tourism board for 14 years. She explained more about the lodging tax.

In 1990, the state cut funding for tourism in Colorado. Small counties and towns had to find their own way to market and encourage tourism. Winter Park was the first in our county to decide on a 1% lodging tax to help promote tourism. Grand County soon followed with their own 1.8% lodging tax.

Summer is stronger in lodging tax revenues since lodging in the town of Winter Park is excluded and the rest of Grand County brings in more summer visitors. 2013 saw $554,362 in tax revenue and has steadily increased every year. 2016 lodging tax revenue brought in $784, 897 with the largest share of revenue coming from the summer months.

Those funds are used in a variety of ways to help Grand County tourism. There were 679 events promoted and posted on the Grand County Tourism website last year. Dede noted, “That’s a lot for Grand County. Our team does great with events, events do drive tourism.” Examples of events posted and promoted are the story hour at Winter Park and live music in Grand Lake. Each day of the Middle Park Fair & Rodeo in Kremmling was a separate posting.

The Tourism Board also works to optimize Google searches on Grand County. Their website is up 24% with website visitors up 25% from last year. The board works to ensure that websites are content driven and users are being drawn to Ground County through online searches.

In addition, travelers can find appealing information about Grand County in publications. Gaylene Ore, PR for the Tourism Board, “Public Relations is more reliable than advertising. As of today, there are a billion impressions in publications with an ad value of close to $700,000.”

The Grand County Tourism board hosts press trips from different publications throughout the United States to encourage publications to feature Grand County. Mountain Living, Elevation Outdoors, Architectural Digest, 9 news, and the Denver post were just a few publications that featured Grand County this year.

In November, the tourism board is launching a guest guide in every community that will include maps, scenic byways, bus schedules and more. The Tourism Board presentation for the BOCC explained that the goal is to continue to have cohesiveness no matter where visitors are in any part of the county, so everyone will know about all attractions in the area. The Tourism board will continue to promote tourism and market the beautiful resources of Grand County so visitors can enjoy whether they are in Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs, Grand Lake, Granby, Fraser or Winter Park