Benefits of International Tourism on Colorado Business

Vail Valley may not exactly be on the hot-list of international tourists and is thus contributing only in small measures to the state’s economy, but over the next couple of years this scene is bound to change not just in Vail Valley but in the whole of Colorado.

A panel discussion was held on Thursday during the annual Vail Valley Business Forum, which is a part of Vail Valley Partnership. All participants present voiced their opinion on how important international tourism is, they opined that if Denver International Airport was to have more new flights it could help bring even more tourists and visitors into the region.

Earlier in the year in the month of May, United Airlines announced their plans to launch nonstop service on Denver – Tokyo sector from next year. Many view this move as a good start to boost business in Denver. Icelandair has plans to launch nonstop service starting this year on the Denver – Reykjavik, Iceland sector. With these new flights service would be opened up to various European cities.

CEO and President, Visit Denver, the convention and visitor bureau for Denver, Richard Scharf said that he believed that international tourism was a major contributor (“saved our bacon” as he put it) last year and that is why they would prefer being aligned in Vail with the business society. He also added that a major portion of his organization’s group business came from outside US and this is what they were trying to attract. He went on to say that the potential for international growth was huge and so more flights could be expected in the near future.

CEO of a transportation consultation company CRL Associates, Maria Garcia Berry also a panel member referred to the Reykjavik and Tokyo flights and said that Denver International Airport could serve as a major intermountain west hub. She added that the Tokyo flights were very important and could not be afforded to fail.

Scharf said that Visit Denver already had links with Colorado Ski Country USA and Vail Resorts to offer groups visiting Denver extended-visit packages. He added that more such alliances needed to be formed.

He said that they need to determine how to build a brand as a state.

Building Colorado as a brand needed to go beyond tourism and this would be very important as only then can more businesses be convinced to relocate to the state.

Richard Wobbekind said that tourism played an important role in building up the economy of the state however it does not create jobs that attract high salaries. Richard Wobbekind is the Senior Associate Dean – Associate Programs and Executive Director – Business Research Division at Boulder’s University of Colorado. He said that the high-paying jobs were essential as Vail Valley was a relatively expensive place and only such jobs could help build the economies. Such jobs could be created through industries like health and wellness.

And these high-salaried jobs generally start when tourists start frequenting the place.

According to Scharf 80 percent of the relocated businesses to Colorado was because someone linked to those companies came to Colorado on vacation. He added that this was one reason why Colorado needed continued marketing efforts to advertise it.

However, he also said, it was important to try and attract those businesses into the Colorado state that other states may not be interested in. He said for instance his group was trying to attract the outdoor retailers’ association to hold their annual meeting in Colorado. He opined that it was necessary to follow up companies that had the same lifestyle as Colorado as it allows focusing on things that are inherent to the state and its people.

However to chase companies willing to relocate and also attract international visitors, the different regions of the state need to coordinate, cooperate and communicate with each other.

53 percent of the population in the state lived in only 7 counties in the Front Range said Garcia Berry. And people residing in these counties need help to understand how the economy in their home town could be improved by the state.

The program was wide-ranging and touched on topics ranging from transportation to real estate. Panel members felt that Interstate 70 needed improvement and some kind of transit system needed to be explored.

On completion of the session Chris Hanen, General Manager of Evergreen Lodge said the news he heard was encouraging. He said that there were numerous options available out there and there were a lot of things happening.