State grants fund winter tourism and creative corridor marketing
The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce and its partners were awarded marketing grants totaling $35,000 from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) over the last month. One grant for $10,000 will fund a Ouray County Off-Peak Season Marketing Campaign, implemented in collaboration with the Ouray Tourism Office, while the other will fund marketing of the Colorado Creative Corridor by Ridgway and four other towns along a travel route featuring state-certified Creative Districts.
“Winter (post holidays) is one of the slowest times of year for our businesses community and often a challenging time to keep the doors open and retain employees. Encouraging stronger visitation over the winter months helps businesses rely on more consistent volume, which in turn allows for better planning and employee retention year round,” explained Tim Patterson of RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service, who is also the chamber’s board president.
“Visitors and residents in Ridgway benefit from the proximity, access and affordability of our region’s pre-existing winter activities, coupled with our town’s incredibly scenic location. Ridgway is already viewed as a great place to get away from the typical tourist-town feel and have a more authentic experience, even and especially over the winter months,” Patterson said.
Nordic and backcountry skiing, soaking in hot springs, and ice climbing are well-known winter activities in the area, but visitors can also participate in indoor bouldering, adaptive outdoor recreation programs, and a range of wellness activities like yoga, pilates, and massages. Many local art galleries, music and theater venues, local eateries, and pubs are also open in January, February and March. San Juan Skijoring, a sport where a horseback rider pulls a skier or snowboarder along a course, is also an increasingly popular spectator event at the Ouray County Fairgrounds.
A wide selection of snowshoe, ski and fat bike destinations are available at the edge of Ridgway and Ouray as well as within an hour’s drive up Red Mountain Pass, Dallas Divide and several Ouray County roads. Ouray has its own ski and snowboard slope with a free tow rope, Lee’s Ski Hill, plus sledding at Vinegar Hill and ice skating at Rotary Park.
The Colorado Creative Corridor is another year-round opportunity to visit the Ridgway Creative District, and the town and chamber were awarded state funding to market the initiative for a third year. The $25,000 grant is shared by Ridgway, Paonia, Crested Butte, Carbondale, and Salida. Together, these five towns offer a collective experience of unique arts and cultural event programming and activities, alongside mountain town eclecticism, majestic vistas and outdoor recreation.
“We are excited to be directly involved in $35,000 of CTO grant funding for 2020. The Colorado Creative Corridor and off-peak season marketing grants are important for promoting a more sustainable model of year-round visitation and consistent economic opportunities for our local businesses, ” said Hilary Lewkowitz, the chamber’s marketing director.