The city of Steamboat Springs is leading the charge in a regional heritage tourism project.
Earlier this month, a letter from the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council was written to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell requesting federal funding for the Northwest Colorado Heritage Project.
The letter from the Economic Development Council said the city is willing to serve as a coordinator for the program that would identify historic and natural attractions; link sites with brochures, maps and driving tours; and work with property owners and communities to create heritage tourism sites.
"Heritage tourism is a movement that is growing in popularity all over (the country)," City Manager Paul Hughes said.
The city would work with surrounding counties, federal and state agencies, tourism organizations and nonprofit conservation and preservation groups in the multiyear project, the letter indicated.
Linda Kakela, director of intergovernmental services, said the project is intended to be a pilot for the state and builds off the national recognition Steamboat Springs received through President George Bush's Preserve America Initiative.
In a memo to the City Council, Kakela said heritage tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry.
Visitors who come to Colorado in the summer gravitate toward Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. The heritage tourism project would develop ways to attract visitors to sites between the two destinations.
"It will keep visitors here who already come to the two anchor ends, it will keep them another day or two in Colorado," Kakela said.
Northwest Colorado's work in preserving historic buildings and its natural landscape in the past decade is one of the reasons the area is ideal for a pilot program, Kakela said.
The program, scheduled to start in the fall, is proposed for the Economic Development Council's region: Routt and Moffat counties. The council said in its letter to Campbell that it was exploring the interest of other counties and municipalities in the region.
The city will base its project on the Texas Heritage Trail program, which promoted heritage tourism in West Texas.
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