On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at 10 a.m., Town of Nederland staff and community leaders attended a virtual meeting held by representatives of the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the Reimagine Destinations Program concerning the next stages of their partnership. The Town of Nederland has attended workshops with CTO in an effort to advance tourism to the town and will continue to receive 100 hours of consultation from a provided tourism expert.
The CTO acts as a division of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade to “empower the tourism industry” by inspiring respectful visitation through “collaboration, inclusivity, innovation, and leadership”.
The Reimagination Destinations Program (RDP) is offered by the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant, a $2.4 million dollar grant awarded to the CTO in January, 2021, from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The RDP aims to increase collaboration between state and local representatives for tourism to create actionable initiatives that will help advance tourism in the region. In the past 16 months the RDP has administered over 52 workshops to help rebuild Colorado’s tourism industry post-pandemic.
The Town of Nederland was selected by the CTO for the RDP in July, 2022, partly as a result of the town’s lack of a tourism budget or a board or commission responsible for tourism management. Nederland took part in an initial assessment by the CTO concerning the Town’s tourism priorities, during which a core team and facilitator were established.
Town Administrator Miranda Fisher, Administrative Support Manager Peter Cacek, Parks Department Director and Traffic Control Supervisor Nicki Dunn, and Nederland Community Center Director Dawn Baumhover were all part of the core team. Barbara Hardt: Chair of the Nederland DDA, Event Coordinator Stephanie Andelman, Wild Bear Nature Center Executive Director Jill Dreves, Teens, Inc. Executive Director Stephen LeFaiver, and Fire Chief Mike Scott were also part of the core team.
CTO Contractor Amy Cassidy, along with colleague Derek Shimmel, were named the facilitators for the partnership as the Town of Nederland moves forward with the RDP.
The initial assessment conducted by Cassidy and CTO included poring over background research such as a visitor profile study, which covered the busy 2022 summer season in Nederland and indicated that the majority of tourists are from Colorado, with Texans coming in second.
On September 30, 2022, Nederland’s Town Hall posted on their official Facebook page and on Nedheads a link to a public survey on tourism in Nederland. As another part of CTO’s initial assessment, the “Nederland Resident Sentiment Survey” was aimed at gauging public opinion towards the future of tourism so that Town staff and government can determine how and where to focus their efforts.
Public response was nearly immediate as the Town Hall’s post was shared and commented on several times. The public discourse was generally centered on how the income from tourism can better serve the benefit of area locals, considering that town infrastructure and town services were viewed as “suffering.”
Residents did not support the town making any further outreach for increasing tourism in Nederland, such as advertising, but rather desired to see better management and regulation on current tourism and tourism industries, such as Short Term Rentals (STR) and festival events.
During the February 1 meeting, Cassidy stated to the core team that, to them, the resident survey pinpointed local concerns of impacts on their quality of life. It was determined by CTO’s assessment that the majority of residents agreed that tourism is important to Nederland’s economy. However, Nederland’s need for proper signage and parking is a hindrance to tourism, while education of visitors on the responsible and respectful use of public lands was a major desire.
A tourism stakeholder survey conducted during CTO’s assessment indicated that business owners’ top concerns about tourism for the upcoming year were the continued rise of supply costs, staff retention problems, and poor attitudes towards tourism from Nederland residents.
All of this preliminary work conducted by Cassidy and the CTO led the Town of Nederland’s core tourism team into a “community visioning and action planning workshop” in November, 2022. The workshop helped the team to draft their tourism priorities and a timeline for short, medium, and long term actionable items that will help advance tourism in Nederland. It was determined from this workshop that the Town’s areas of focus should be “encouraging responsible and respectful use in Town and on public lands; championing the value of community-based tourism; and defining Nederland’s identity.”
The core team also discussed the importance of reviewing Nederland’s current zoning codes and ordinances in order to identify and eradicate any barriers to developing new businesses which would help prompt more tourism.
During the February 1, 2023, meeting, the core team discussed the next phases of the RDP, which includes Nederland receiving 100 hours of free consulting from now until May, 2023, from a CTOprovided “tourism expert.” Cassidy, who is also acting as the consultant, would assist in developing a tourism leadership structure in Nederland, as well as developing a tourism budget.
A “Do Colorado Right” campaign, or in this case, a “Do Nederland Right” campaign, aimed to protect and uphold Nederland’s defined values by educating visitors on important stewardship topics, from fire prevention to backcountry safety, will also be developed with assistance from CTO’s consultant.
The extensive work on the Do Nederland Right campaign involves nailing down Nederland’s identity and values and developing a foundation of a brand identity from there. Cassidy would also be responsible for assisting with the creation of a Do Nederland Right campaign logo, and for drafting social media content for the campaign.
Cassidy specified to the core team what they could expect to see from her 100 hours of consulting. In three months, the Town of Nederland can expect to see research pertaining to implementing a “tourism advisory board” or “marketing committee,” as well as draft budgets for such groups and initiatives. Press releases and a presentation before the Nederland Board of Trustees will also be given as part of Cassidy’s consulting. A draft of the Town’s community values will also be provided, in addition to the preliminary work for implementing the Do Nederland Right campaign.
An official press release from the Town of Nederland will announce $20,000 of direct marketing support from the CTO in order to fund a creative production shoot that will attempt to “strengthen the visual assets used to market and manage Nederland as a tourism destination.” The funds for a marketing campaign will hopefully be available by this summer, though Nederland has the choice of which season should be presented in its marketing campaign.