Mountain News: Vail cultivates destination visitors 

Colorado towns review lodging tax; Canmore considering tourism

VAIL, Colo. - Vail Resorts this year has put more energy into courting destination skiers, including those from other countries.

Vail always has been blessed - and, depending upon who's talking, cursed - with a balanced portfolio. It has both day and overnight skiers from Denver 100 miles away and other communities along Colorado's Front Range. It also is a destination for more distant travelers, and for decades has had a healthy number of international visitors, 10 per cent more or less.

Adam Sutter, marketing director for Vail Mountain, said the resort should have more than 70 per cent destination skiers. He tells the Vail Daily that the company sees the potential for strong growth among visitors from Canada, Mexico and Australia.

While Vail always has had many wealthy Mexican skiers, it lately has adopted a Spanish-language camp for children. That program aims to keep Mexicans in Vail next spring for an extra week, in conjunction with the Easter holiday.

"We have to do everything we can not to take that business for granted," Sutter said. "We have a unique footprint in Mexico, and we ought to do everything we can to nurture it."


Towns review lodging tax

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Voters in at least three ski towns - Aspen, Breckenridge and Jackson - will be approving or rejecting proposals for new or increased lodging taxes. In several cases, the added revenues would supplement sagging town budgets while also boosting efforts to market the communities as tourism destinations.

In Breckenridge, the proposed 1 per cent tax increase seems to have broad support from the lodging and restaurant communities, reports the Summit Daily News. The tax would boost the existing $1.68 million fund to $2.2 million. Boosters say the money can help the resort fill lulls, such as that in February, while also promoting the town as a destination, similar to Vail.

One marketing director, Bruce Horii, tells the newspaper that the lodging companies would prefer a different tax, but they believe this one has the best chance of approval.

In Wyoming, Jackson voters are being asked to adopt a tax that would yield $1.5 million for the diminishing town treasury and $2 million for marketing. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports a community divided, as has been the case repeatedly in the last 16 years since the tax was repealed.

Examining arguments by both opponents and proponents, business analyst Jonathan Schechter finds both sides presenting bogus arguments.

Those supporting the tax have cited the loss of 2,000 jobs - implying that the lodging tax will restore them. However, that argument assumes all jobs are equal. Not true, he points out, as the average tourism job pays 40 per cent less than the average construction job.


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