Colorado Tourism Office Recognizes Industry’s Giving Spirit During National Travel and Tourism Week

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is marking the 37th annual National Travel and Tourism Week, May 3-9, 2020, by highlighting organizations that have taken extraordinary steps to support their communities and others in addressing unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Though tourism is widely recognized as the industry most devastated by impacts of COVID-19 containment, tourism-based organizations across the state have pitched in They have created everything from promotions to support restaurants while feeding those impacted by COVID-19 to silent auctions generating sales for businesses to innovative ways of producing personal protective equipment fast.


“While we cannot join together in person to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week this year, it’s more important than ever to recognize the compassion and strength of our tourism industry partners during this global crisis,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. “Our hope is that others will be inspired by these contributions. Each and every one exemplifies the ‘Spirit of Travel,’ which will be integral to the recovery of our state’s tourism economy.”


Standout initiatives that embody the ‘Spirit of Travel’ include:


Arts & Culture


Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass is using 3-D technology to create personal protective equipment, including face shields and visors, to donate to medical professionals. Carbondale Arts started the Artist Relief Fund to allocate donations to local creatives who need help covering essential costs during this unprecedented time. It is also planning to host Virtual First Fridays to enrich the community. History Colorado repurposed its digital learning platform for classrooms for at-home use. It launched Hands-On History @ Home, an educational resource to assist families with children out of school, and consists of programming designed with elementary-school students and their caregivers in mind, but suitable for anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to unwind with history. MakerLab in Durango has partnered with Alpacka Raft to manufacture thousands of hospital gowns for local community hospitals. Redline Contemporary Art Center in Denver launched the Makers for Masks program, which employs artists to provide the local homeless communities and shelters with cloth masks.



Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)


VISIT DENVER stepped up to support Denver Metro Area and Boulder restaurants by launching, a microsite with a collection of takeout, delivery and curbside options. The organization also cleared all bookings through June for the Colorado Convention Center so it could be transformed into an overflow medical facility. The Breckenridge Tourism Office created toolkits and resource centers to help partners navigate the rapidly changing landscape of guidelines and support programs. The team at Visit Durango has been an integral part of the region’s Economic Recovery Task Force team, volunteering its staff and resources to lead disaster and recovery communications.


The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau created an online auction and storefront for businesses in the county to sell gift cards, products and services and generated $116,514 with 100 percent of sales going directly back to each business. It became a trendsetter, with other counties and towns across Colorado using Chaffee County’s online auction as a model for their own. The Montezuma Task Force was created when three neighboring Chambers of Commerce—CortezDolores and Mancos—joined forces to share resources to support local businesses with surveys, trainings, meetings and more.


Food & Beverage


In Colorado Springs, Chef Eric Brenner launched Meals to Heal as a way to provide food to healthcare workers, first responders and emergency services personnel while simultaneously supporting local restaurants. What started as a local fundraising effort has blossomed into a nationwide grassroots initiative with communities all over the country joining together to feed frontline personnel by supporting local restaurants. Sage Restaurant Concepts started the “Keep Calm and Carry Out” campaign to support both the restaurant community and those most impacted by COVID-19. Kevin Gabala of the non-profit Friends & Family partnered with Zeppelin Station and other sponsors to provide free meals to service industry workers impacted by lay-offs or furloughs. Antonio's Real New York Pizza in Estes Park offered free or discounted food to community members in need while sharing messages of hope, positivity and reassurance on its social media networks.


The Colorado Brewers Guild and Left Hand Brewing Foundation launched the Colorado Strong Fund, a program that supports Colorado craft breweries and suppliers while raising funds for impacted workers across the state. Codi Manufacturing lent its canning equipment to small breweries that normally rely on in-person sales and enabled them to package and sell beer for curbside purchase.Elevation 5003 Distillery and Steamboat Whiskey Company are just a few of many distilleries around the state that sprung into action to make hand sanitizer from the alcohol they distill. Gilded Goat Brewing Company and CopperMuse Distillery teamed up to make 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer for Colorado State University.


Outdoor Recreation


In Cortez, Osprey’s pack repair team transitioned its daily operations to solely create fabric masks for its region’s healthcare workers and first responders. Topo Designs and Phunkshun Wear are making cloth masks and partnering with the Colorado Mask Project to protect frontline essential workers and vulnerable populations. Venture Snowboards, based in Silverton, has shifted its production to create face shields for the medical community.


Aspen Skiing Company employees are volunteering to manage the Basalt Food Drive while others volunteer with Pitkin County to assist with the abundance of emergency financial relief requests. As ski resorts closed in early March, Vail Resorts took immediate action by donating any excess perishable food to its mountain communities, including local food banks, schools, and community organizations. In total, more than 25 non-profits and community organizations received donations from Vail Resorts locations. Additionally, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, donated more than $2.5 million to provide immediate support for both Vail Resorts employees and the mountain towns where the company operates.


Additional Noteworthy Initiatives


Forced to suspend its camp programs, the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park shifted gears and began providing discounted childcare for the region’s working parents. It also created the COVID-19 Sustainability Fund to support its full-time staff and the local community.


VistaWorks, a destination marketing agency in Buena Vista, began offering pro bono services to the small communities it represents across the state. Its leader, Bryan Jordan, is volunteering to serve on the Cañon City COVID-19 Business Leaders Taskforce to help protect the area’s local businesses and economy.


To learn more about each initiative, please visit


Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Colorado was on its way to a strong winter travel season. In mid-April, traveler spending in Colorado was down 89 percent compared with the same week in 2019, the lowest dip since the numbers began to freefall in early March.


In 2019, Colorado residents ranked tourism as the state’s most important industry, surpassing agriculture/farming, technology, retail and financial services. Overall, the hospitality industry is Colorado’s job generator.  At last count, visitor spending in 2018 directly generated more than 174,400 jobs and earnings of $6.8 billion. Colorado travelers spent $22.3 billion that year, directly generating $1.37 billion in local and state revenues. Replacing those revenues would have cost each Colorado household $659.




About the Colorado Tourism Office: The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is a division of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The CTO’s mission is to generate traveler spending by the promotion of Colorado as a four-season, four-corner, world-class travel destination and development of compelling, sustainable travel experiences. In 2018, Colorado travelers spent $22.3 billion, generating $1.37 billion in local and state revenues, reducing the tax burden for every Coloradan by $659. Tourism is the state’s second-largest employer, directly supporting 174,400 jobs. For more information, please visit

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NTTW 2020 honors the ‘Spirit of Travel’ in unprecedented times