Gov. John Hickenlooper made a pit stop in Breckenridge on Thursday morning to give a speech on the thriving tourism industry in Colorado.
Kicking off the Governor’s Tourism Conference, Hickenlooper was quick to praise the host city, calling it “a great model of a town that works.”
However, it’s how towns and companies across the state work together that makes Colorado a success, Hickenlooper emphasized.
“That collaborative effort has helped to make Colorado a real tourism powerhouse,” he said.
The governor underscored that 21 percent of all ski trips in the nation happen here in the state. Visitors spent $19.1 billion in the state last year, an all-time high.
Following Hickenlooper, Peter Greenberg, the travel editor for CBS, spoke about the industry in broader terms, saying that travel makes up 10 percent of the global gross domestic product. He said that throughout his career he had traveled to Colorado at least 150 times since 1971.
That kind of loyalty is the key to success for a tourism-based economy. Another important ingredient is diversity. It can all be about skiing.
“It’s about all the things you can provide,” he said.
Lucy Kay, the CEO and president of Breckenridge’s tourism office, said that conferences such as this are a boost to the economy of cities and towns in which they are held. She added that this particular conference goes to a different city in Colorado each year. Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, said that with 528 registered attendants, it was the largest Governor’s Conference ever held.
The conference is being held at the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center. The last day of the conference is Friday, Sept. 16. Today’s events start with a talk from Ritter on promotional programming, and what’s next for the tourism industry in Colorado. There will be more breakout sessions throughout the day, covering different topics such as marijuana and transportation. The conference will close on Friday afternoon with a speech from Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics. His speech will focus on an analysis by his company on how much longer the tourism industry can continue to thrive.
The last event of the conference will be a scavenger hunt for attendees that will take them throughout Breckenridge.