In 1993, Colorado residents voted to eliminate the state’s tourism marketing budget. In the following years, interest to visit the state – and the economic impact of tourism – suffered. Since that time, the state has resurrected the Colorado Tourism Office and the state is again one of the top destinations among travelers interested in domestic travel. However, public sentiment about natural resources and the impact of outside visitation to the state was causing concern about the need to defend the tourism industry within the community once again.

To address these questions, we conducted our Community Perspectives study for the Colorado Tourism Office – a custom online survey of 400 adult residents in the state of Colorado to measure their perceptions of tourists, understand their knowledge of the economic benefits of tourism, and to gauge their understanding of the state government’s efforts to lessen the negative impacts of visitors on Colorado’s environment and infrastructure. This study was fielded in Q1 2018.

The survey data revealed that a majority of Colorado residents believe tourism is at least somewhat important to Colorado. Furthermore, many said that tourism impacts their lives in a positive way. As a result, the Colorado Tourism Office used the results not to defend the industry but rather to make strategic planning decisions around areas that residents believed the industry could create change within the state. As an example, the survey revealed that residents would like better education programs in place so outside visitors would be respectful of the state’s natural resources. And, they encouraged the state tourism office to promote the lesser-known, lesser-trafficked corners of Colorado. Not only have the insights provided results-driven marketing tactics, but they have reinforced relationships with local residents to ensure their efforts would continue to gain public support.

"The results of our survey alerted us not only to potential hot buttons but also to the kinds of steps our office and industry could take to make our residents feel more positive about tourism. The results were so valuable in guiding our strategy that we're planning to make this an ongoing element of our annual research plan." – Cathy Ritter, Director, Colorado Tourism Office.