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Steamboat jumping on plastic

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ASPEN, Colo. — "Cultural tourism" has been a buzz phrase in Colorado tourist circles during the last couple of years. It’s defined as attracting visitors to arts, festivals, and museums and the like. While this is nothing new, proponents say that Colorado tourist towns could gain more by promoting "mind" attractions instead of just "sweat" things.

One such proponent, Nancy Kramer, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, points to Aspen as a shining star of cultural tourism. Aspen’s post-war life as a resort was one equally planted in skiing and in summer festivals. Best known of the latter is the 56-year-old Aspen Music Festival and School, which has $13 million budget. It adds an estimated $52 million to the local economy.

Speaking at a conference reported by The Aspen Times, Kramer said Aspen enjoys an 85 per cent visitor return rate and a summer demographic of visitors who are older empty-nesters.

Cultural tourists have a higher income per capita than other travelers, on average spend up to 36 per cent more than other travelers per visit ($623 versus $457), and stay up to 50 per cent longer (more than five nights versus three nights), she explained.

Creede was also cited by Kramer. A one-time mining town snuggled in the San Juan Mountains, it has a population of only 400. But the Creede Repertory Theatre manages to support 60 artists and staff members during summer months.

The Durango area is also taking preliminary steps to promote its cultural tourism, as are Steamboat Springs and other towns in northwestern Colorado.

The struggle for balance

BANFF, Alberta — From Banff comes a report of rising tensions as a developer, Christian Dubois, proposes to build an array of apartments and duplexes in what is now an area of single-family homes. Dubois says he believes his project’s design acknowledges the existing character of the neighbourhood, but 60 neighbours turned out to disagree – some of them loudly.

The background for this story is that Banff cannot expand laterally, as it has used up its space within the Banff National Park. As such, it can expand only vertically. Plus, like all other pretty places, people want to move there. Some 40 to 100 single-family homes have been razed in the last several years, replaced with condominiums, row houses, and other joint-walled living structures.

All this has some people warning that the economy may erode, because talented managers may take their talents to places where they can live in single-family houses.

Down-valley in Canmore is presumably one of those places, but there the story is of town officials trying to increase density along New Urbanist lines, in which homes are mixed with shops and offices. In one area of Canmore, called Teepee Town, the rezoning could result in 900 residents, compared to the 600 maximum permissible under existing zoning.

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