More than four and a half million visitors flock to Estes Park each year. Balancing the needs of the community with the needs of tourists is tricky.
At an event called Estes Inspired at the Estes Park Event Complex on Tuesday, May 3, Visit Estes Park (VEP) CEO Kara Franker described how her organization tries to serve both locals and strangers.
“VEP believes in being a community first organization,” Franker told the crowd. “We promote responsible tourism and destination stewardship. These are important buzzwords for the future of our city.
Mayor Wendy Koenig presented Franker with a proclamation declaring May 4, 2022 as Estes Inspired Day.
Andrew Grossman of the Colorado Office of Tourism defined destination stewardship for the public.
“It’s a transformational holistic approach that seeks to find harmony between residents’ quality of life and a strong tourism economy while protecting our cultural and natural resources,” Grossman explained.
Grossman said investment in local tourism is more important now than it has ever been.
“The industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID pandemic,” he said. “It has also changed the way travelers get to our destinations. People are eager for access to public lands, access to solitude, and access to all that Estes Park has to offer. It’s an opportunity. How can we take this new demand, this new interest in our destination, and use it as a way to educate people on how to be more responsible?
Guests at the Estes Inspired event enjoyed live music from Chain Station and food and beverages from local restaurants and craft beverage establishments, as well as information booths showcasing local businesses.
Earlier in the day, the Estes Chamber of Commerce held a tourism fair for the local lodging industry.
“The trade show was a great success from a vendor perspective,” said Chamber General Manager Donna Carlson. “We had a full house”
Carlson pointed out that the Chamber, the VEP and the local Economic Development Corporation are all working together to promote both tourism and the local economy, with the groups working independently, but in synergy.
“We need each other,” she added.