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Ridgway and Ouray Receive State Grant to Promote Off-Peak Season Tourism

The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce (RACC) and the Ouray Tourism Office (OTO) are pleased to announce their recent award of a $10,000 marketing grant from the Colorado Tourism Office to promote countywide, off-peak season visitation and tourism-driven economic opportunities. Ridgway and Ouray recognize that summer tourism visitation is at or near maximum capacity. In contrast, local businesses struggle to keep a consistent cash flow during the shoulder seasons of October through April.

The marketing grant will be used to target off-peak season months in an effort to increase tourism-driven economic opportunities for local businesses.

This is the first tourism-related, countywide collaboration that will lay the foundation for future marketing strategies around off-peak season travel periods, and Ridgway Chamber's first state Tourism Office grant award as the lead applicant.  

The two biggest challenges for Ridgway and surrounding area business owners are seasonal swings (off-peak season income) and hiring/retaining employees, according to a 2017 study conducted by Durango-based RPI Consulting. Over the years, Ridgway and Ouray have seen businesses close because of decreased cash flow during the slower months. It has also been challenging to hire and retain employees without being able to promise year-round employment. The purpose of this new initiative is to increase visitors during the off-peak seasons, which will directly impact the success of our local economy by bringing more financial (and workforce) stability to local businesses.

This grant will greatly enhance both Ridgway’s and Ouray’s current marketing programs. To date, Ouray and Ridgway have not worked together towards a collaborative countywide marketing strategy. In addition, neither Ridgway or Ouray has specifically targeted off-peak season tourism in marketing campaigns. This grant will be the start of a long-term marketing strategy to unite Ouray County stakeholders towards a common goal of tourism development beyond the busy summer season. The marketing initiatives will be based on a series of itineraries highlighting countywide tourism assets that are accessible during the months of October through March. Target markets will be high-value outdoor enthusiasts and creatives that are looking to experience uncrowded and authentic Colorado mountain towns.

"We see this grant as only the beginning of a new and ongoing strategy to focus marketing efforts specifically on the off-peak season, and to do so in collaboration with Ouray. Our board believes this is where we can move the needle for our business community and their employees", commented Colin Lacy, RACC Board President.

“This grant represents an opportunity for Ouray and Ridgway to showcase our shared assets and unique experiences in the seasons where we would like to see more economic stability. Both the Ouray Tourism Office and Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce share a vision of a sustainable, community-first and experience-based destination marketing program, and this forms the basis of a new collaborative strategy between the organizations. This grant, and the shoulders seasons, are our best opportunity to start moving forward on a sustainable path into the future”, said Kat Papenbrock, Executive Director, Ouray Tourism Office.