The City of Colorado Springs is looking to the future when it comes to tourism. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau presented a master plan to City Council on Monday which contains a list of 5 Big Ideas to help boost the number of visitors coming to town. The document aspires to a 25 percent increase in the number of visitors (8.4 million people) and 100 percent growth in tourist spending ($1.3 billion.)
For starters, CVB President and CEO Doug Price said he’d love to get more people to stay in town a little longer.
"Of the 23 million visitors who came in 2017, almost 60 percent of them were only here for the day," Price said. "They did not spend the night. You can’t do all there is to do in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region in a day."
The bureau has been working on this master plan since October. The first big idea on the list is to use what we’ve got. The plan calls for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region make the most of the natural beauty around us to become nation’s most desirable place for urban and outdoor experiential travel.
"Our natural beauty is right there, it’s so close," Price explained. "You don’t have to travel an hour or two to get to it. It’s in our backyard."
Idea #2 would build upon existing relationships. The plan encourages the City to leverage its relationship with the US Olympic Committee, the various governing bodies and the new Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame to bring new visitors to town.
The third idea would require some investment. Whether using private or public money, the CVB believes there is a need for downtown sports/events venues and meeting venues like a convention center to attract out-of-town events.
The next big idea is to expand tourism opportunities year-round by encouraging and promoting more arts and cultural events, as well as developing festivals for every season of the year.
Finally, big idea #5 is to establish a region, sustainable transportation system that better connects visitors arriving at the airport to the hotels and attractions the City has to offer.
"We are obviously going to be receiving many, many, many more tourists who will spend many, many, many more dollars," said Councilwoman Jill Gaebler from District 5. "My focus has always been from a City’s perspective to make sure that we have the infrastructure needed."
Councilman Don Knight from District 1 was more skeptical.
"I think there are individual, pet projects in here," Knight said. He added that he can’t support the master plan without putting some restraints on spending first.
Council President Richard Skorman explained that the master plan is intended to be a guiding document, not a final proposal for any individual component.
"There is a real value in investing in this kind of infrastructure, the tourism infrastructure, that will bring a lot more money to the general fund in the future," Skorman said.
Price said his request for a resolution of support is to make decisions about goals, not final details.
"What we want to do is put a stamp on it today and say we want to do this in a socially responsible way."
The Council will take a vote on that resolution in two weeks. Meanwhile, Price will present the information to El Paso County Commissioners on Thursday.