Steamboat Chamber requests $ 750,000 from city council, most of it going to management of the destination

Steamboat Springs Chamber and Visitor Center. l Steamship room / courtesy photo

Before Steamboat Springs City Council passed the city’s 2022 budget, the Steamboat Springs chamber made a formal request for funding of $ 750,000 at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council did not vote on the request, but agreed to discuss the matter during its budget retreat on October 5.

House CEO Kara Stoller told board members the House would like 75% of funds to be spent on destination management and 25% on marketing and promotion, with more emphasis on management. destinations now and marketing as a longer term goal.

Stoller said the overall idea behind managing destinations is to mitigate the negative impacts of growth and tourism, as well as to provide education for visitors.

“We have worked hard to balance economic impacts with community and environmental impacts,” said Stoller, adding that she hopes to implement a long-term destination management plan within the next year.

Specifically, Stoller suggested a ‘Visit Responsibly’ campaign to educate visitors about safety while recreating, giving wildlife space, cleaning up trash, being kind to local employees and being aware of the restrictions on forest fires.

“Based on the community survey, we know that the majority of locals understand the value of tourism,” said Laura Soard, Marketing Director of Steamboat Chamber. “It’s a management that really focuses on sustainable tourism, protecting our cultural heritage and the values ​​of our community, as well as how we encourage visitors to be sustainable while they are here in our community. “

Soard and Stoller said specific campaigns are still under discussion, but they hope to partner with Steamboat Resort, Main Street Steamboat Springs and other businesses and groups that interact with visitors.

“Sometimes word of mouth is the best and the only way to get a message across,” said Robin Crossan, board member, who works at Steamboat Resort. “Last year on the mountain we had people who had to remind people every day to put on their masks.”

Crossan also said she would like to help service workers learn more about the rules of the community, so they can better educate the tourists they serve.

“This, for me, represents 50% of the messaging campaign,” Crossan said.

Board member Michael Buccino said he agreed with the 75/25 numbers and encouraged other board members to remember that Steamboat relies heavily on tourism and that marketing should always be a priority to get people to visitors to town, especially during the fall and spring seasons, which traditionally see lower visitor numbers.

“If there are locals who want to close these doors to anyone who comes to visit, then maybe they should leave town because that is what this town is,” Buccino said. “It’s very myopic for anyone to think that it’s not a tourist economy that brings people here. “

While board members agreed with the chamber’s idea and agreed to discuss funding for the organization, board member Buccino and Kathi Meyer expressed concern that the chamber continues to ask the city for money every year and has not yet found fiscal independence.

“I specifically think it’s time for the House to go into the hosting community and say, ‘We want to control our own destiny; we want to stop going to city council every year, begging for money and not knowing what the plan is, ”Meyer said. “I will have a hard time giving the tax support you ask for until it is truly recognized that you have a plan.”

Buccino called Meyer’s idea of ​​asking for more money from the accommodation community through a “no-brainer” accommodation tax.

In June, Stoller asked the board to consider reallocating the 1% accommodation tax with a majority of the revenue going to marketing and destination management.

The tax, which the accommodation industry pays, was originally enacted in 1986 to fund “the development of improvements and amenities at Steamboat Springs, which will promote tourism and strengthen the vitality of Steamboat Springs as a premier resort destination ”. And then, in 2013, voters approved a 10-year reallocation of funds to build trails around town and help fund improvements along Yampa Street.

As board members explored the idea of ​​reallocating funds over several meetings, they ultimately voted against it.

Council member Heather Sloop said she believes the House had to make several sacrifices during COVID-19, and the conversation on tax independence could take place at a later date.

“You got kicked and beaten and just run over trying to figure this out,” Sloop said. “I think you just needed to breathe, and I appreciate your breathing.”

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