Aspen Destination Management Plan Actions

Destination Management Plan Actions

For each strategic objective, a series of actions have been defined to help ACRA in its destination management efforts. 

Engage in 360-degree feedback with residents and industry
Phase I - Lead
Action

Utilize a platform for community engagement.
-    An example of a platform that has been used successfully for civic engagement and community decision making is CitizenLab. It is a community engagement platform, allowing governments to engage residents, manage input, and make decisions.
-    An engagement platform can be a mechanism for residents to regularly share their concerns and crowdsource solutions. 
-    It can also serve as a community education dashboard to keep residents informed on ACRA’s current and future actions.

Action

Whether through an engagement platform or other communication strategies, there is a need to improve resident awareness of ACRA's role/successes and the value of tourism to Aspen. 

Progress: 

ACRA has been out in the Field presenting to and getting feedback from different segments of the community including Aspen Mastermind, ACRA board of directors, and arts & culture organizations. 

Action

Potential focus areas for engagement include strategizing with residents regarding visitor pressure, crowdsourcing solutions to preserve the small-town character, and understanding priorities for sustainability initiatives.
 

Action

Utilize existing communications with member businesses to communicate locally what ACRA is already doing. 
 

Action

It will be important to engage different subsegments of residents, including permanent residents and temporary residents or second-home property owners. 

Progress: 

ACRA is actively surveying various stakeholders throughout the community. 

Enhance visitor education
Phase I - Lead
Action

It is important for visitors and second-home property owners to be aware of the sensitivities of the community. Teach them to admire the way you respect each other and nature. Promote “The Aspen Way”, “Mountain Ethos”, and the “mind, body, spirit” mentality of experiencing Aspen to potential visitors in a campaign that reveals the DNA of Aspen. This will set clear expectations of visitor behavior. 

Progress: 

How To: Aspen

Tag Responsibly

Aspen Pledge

Action

Revisit and expand on the Aspen visitor pledge. Make the pledge more visible and accessible with actions such as: 
-    Road signs before entering the city containing the same messaging and referring to the pledge. 
-    Combine a campaign with Aspenites (and/or visitors) that have already taken the pledge.
-    Continuously expand and promote the How To Aspen content.
-    Push notifications when entering the airport.
-    Visual presence in the streets via posters, billboards, et cetera.
-    Relaunch the pledge with a bang. Create a social media campaign that has viral potential and engage the press.
-    Consider incorporating an incentive or reward system for those who sign 
the pledge. 

Progress: 

The new Aspen Pledge added lines to address kindness, alternate transportation and diversity. ACRA will be making a donation of $18.80 for each pledge signed, up to $50,000. Donations will go to signers' choice of Independence Pass Foundation or Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. 

Action

Promote arts and culture even more. History, heritage, and cultural events distinguish Aspen from neighboring locations and is a source of pride for residents. 
 

Progress: 

ACRA partnered to create the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit

ACRA offered a digital co-op partnership for arts & culture organizations in 2022. 

Action

Communicate what it means to contribute to the community and preserve its small-town character.
 

Action

Showcase internal and external sustainability initiatives to demonstrate that ACRA is modeling ideal visitor behavior. 

Progress: 

Sustainability

 

Aspen won a place among the 2022 Green Destinations Top 100 Stories in recognition of our efforts towards responsible tourism and distinctive appeal. 

Aspen earned a place on the Good Travel Guide

Address traffic and congestion issues
Phase II - Advocate
Action

Advocate for free bus service from Aspen to Glenwood.

Action

Encourage visiting Aspen without a car and develop an education campaign showing that Aspen is small and very walkable and accessible to other low-impact forms of transportation. 

Progress: 

A new line was added to the Aspen Pledge: I WILL TRAVEL BY FOOT, BIKE, OR BUS WHEN I CAN, AND DRIVE CAREFULLY WHEN I CANNOT. 

Action

Start the process of turning Aspen into a walking and cycling city such as Seville, Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, et cetera. 
 

Action

Address the impacts of other tourism economies on Aspen, for example, the visitor pressure from Snowmass. 
 

Action

Promote safe driving and encourage both locals and visitors to drive slower.

Progress: 

A line was added to the Aspen Pledge: I WILL TRAVEL BY FOOT, BIKE, OR BUS WHEN I CAN, AND DRIVE CAREFULLY WHEN I CANNOT. 

Action

Make bridges into a toll bridge (for example, Maroon Creek Bridge) to discourage too much traffic. The toll could be free for residents. 
 

Action

Consider advocating for a direct shuttle between the airport and downtown.

Preserve and regenerate the natural environment
Phase II - Lead + Partner + Advocate
Action

Establish sustainability goals for Aspen’s visitor economy.
-    Use the GSTC Destination Criteria as guidelines for establishing relevant indicators and setting ambitions. 
-    GSTC Criteria are informed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have been tailored for the tourism sector. 

Progress: 

Aspen won a place among the 2022 Green Destinations Top 100 Stories in recognition of our efforts towards responsible tourism and distinctive appeal. 

Aspen earned a place on the Good Travel Guide

Action

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies could be a helpful partner to identify focus areas and amplify advocacy efforts. 
-    Build on the great work ACRA is already doing regarding the Comprehensive Recreation Management for Aspen and the surrounding area. 
-    Consider executing a carrying capacity study to identify areas in addition to Maroon Bells that would benefit from visitor quotas, reservation systems, and/or dynamic pricing (e.g., increased fees during high-use periods). 

Progress: 

ACRA hosts the Maroon Bells Reservation system on our website

ACRA is a funding partner for the Maroon Bells Comprehensive Recreation Management Plan

Forest Service approved a special recreation permit fee for overnight camping in the most heavily impacted areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness to better manage and protect the iconic wilderness destination. 

Action

The Aspen Indigenous Foundation is also a potential partner to enhance sustainability efforts. It is vital to respect and learn from Indigenous principles and practices.
-    One of the organization’s key strengths is community education by sharing Indigenous wisdom. 

Progress: 

Land Acknowledgement

Action

Advocate for the preservation of land outside of the urban growth boundary.
 

Action

Work with stakeholders to raise funds that support the preservation and regeneration of the natural environment. This could include:
-    Introducing an eco-fee on tourism-related purchases such as restaurants, tourism operators, events, et cetera. 
-    Holding an annual sustainable event to raise awareness and funds for a specific ecosystem or species under threat. 
-    Introduce a fee on large groups that visit during busy periods.

Progress: 

Pledge for the Wild partnership

Action

Track progress and measure the sustainability of the destination. 
-    GreenStep is one service provider that provides destinations with sustainability assessments and certification.

Progress: ​​​​​​

Aspen won a place among the 2022 Green Destinations Top 100 Stories in recognition of our efforts towards responsible tourism and distinctive appeal. 

Accelerate reduction of the carbon footprint of tourism
Phase III - Lead + Partner + Advocate
Action

In the tourism sector globally, roughly 75% of emissions can be attributed to transportation. Air and road emissions will be the largest contributors to transportation emissions in Aspen. 
-    ACRA can use this information as a proxy to focus climate action on transportation-related emissions. 
-    Work with visitor economy stakeholders to provide incentives (discounts, access, preferential treatment) for more people to use public transportation and EVs. 
-    Advocate for a quota on private jet arrivals, introduce a private jet tax, and/or a plan to reduce airport emissions through a commitment to sustainable forms of aviation. 
-    Some current and future forms of sustainable aviation include bio-fuels, green hydrogen, and battery-powered aircraft.

Progress: 

Atlantic Aviation's carbon offset program at Aspen FBO

Green City of Aspen programs

Action

Leverage ACRA’s strength in communication to execute educational initiatives.
-    Bring awareness to the visitor economy’s impact on climate change and visitors’ responsibility to be part of the solution.
-    This could include supporting the partnership between Aspen Skiing Company and Protect Our Winters (POW), or finding new partnerships with climate action organizations to find innovative ways to raise awareness and encourage action. 
 

Action

Establish climate action goals.
-    Aligning with the Paris Agreement targets should be a minimum threshold to achieve. Ideally, stronger targets will be established to show leadership. 

Improve the visitor and resident experience
Phase I - Lead + Partner
Action

Limit actions to promote the off-season. Many residents indicated that seasonal dispersal is not the path they want to pursue. 

Progress: 

- ACRA eliminated "early-spring" or Secret Season acquisition marketing campaign in 2022 to protect the spring off-season. 

Action

Co-create a campaign with residents with the objective of preserving the soul of Aspen. Determining how to preserve the soul of Aspen will enhance both the visitor and resident experience. 
 

Action

Work with operators to develop tourism experiences to engage visitors on a deeper level, limiting mass tourism offerings and emphasizing the development of transformational niche experiences. 
 

Action

Improve and rethink wayfinding, particularly in directing visitors to low-impact experiences. 
 

Action

Maintain some backstage experiences for residents. Decide which experiences should be reserved for residents with community input. 

Progress: 

The USFS informed ACRA that they would prefer to have the volume of people at the trails that can handle the visitation because they have the infrastructure in place. ACRA stopped promoting “lesser known” trails, a previous dispersion tactic.

Action

Better support small local businesses. One way to accomplish this is to set up a cross-selling program where businesses are incentivized to refer customers to other local businesses.

Progress: 

Shop Local Artisans Online

Diversify visitor markets
Phase I - Lead
Action

Stop advertising to your direct-fly markets. Aspen is a very established brand, and people will not stay away because they do not see the ads anymore. 
 

Action

Stop advertising to the luxury market for now since these individuals will visit anyways.
 

Action

Pursue passion- and value-based targeting instead of geography and demographics. Invest in netnographic research (“passionography”).
 

Action

Make sure diverse audiences see themselves in promotional and educational material.

Progress: 

How to get outdoors in Aspen if you are living with a disability

Action

Continue efforts for multilingual communications (particularly Spanish).

Progress: 

ACRA translated the new Aspen Pledge into Spanish: https://aspenchamber.org/espanol

Action

Increase efforts to be a cultural tourism concierge since this is an important aspect of Aspen’s DNA and the type of visitor that aligns well with Aspenites’ values.

Action

Engage with the Aspen Indigenous Foundation to support their initiatives, develop cultural experiences, and attract passion-aligned visitors.

Catalyze sustainable choices
Phase I - Lead + Partner + Advocate
Action

Catalog and promote experiences that have low impact and ideally positive social benefits, such as biophilia-based activities.

Action

Increase the highlighting of sustainable restaurants (plant-based and locally sourced ingredients), for example, in recommended itineraries.

Action

Feature public transportation and other forms of low-impact transportation as the primary way to get around. Feature offsetting options through The Good Traveler when air transportation is mentioned.

Progress: 

The Good Traveler - Aspen Pitkin County Airport partnership. ACRA offsets all employee work travel through this program. 

Action

Continue to encourage voluntourism activities such as tree planting, clean-ups, or other activities that have restorative and regenerative effects.

Action

Signal to operators that more attention will be focused on sustainable experiences and operations so that they are incentivized to reshape their offerings.

Action

Expand eco-friendly signage and markings on maps so that visitors are more likely to participate in sustainable offerings.

Action

Encourage Chamber members to improve sustainable sourcing practices.

Action

Encourage the respect of Indigenous principles and promote Indigenous experiences more.

Action

Work with government and industry stakeholders to develop a plan to phase out single-use plastics.

Redefine visitor economy opportunities
Phase III - Lead & Partner
Action

Ensure that an expanded definition of visitor economy-related businesses understand how integral they are to the tourism industry and feel the benefits of tourism. This initiative is about bringing stakeholders together and building relationships.

Action

Look at opportunities/experiences regionally that could have lower impact, such as hiking between towns.

Progress: 

Aspen to Crested Butte Hike Guide

Action

Engage residents to assist in defining the types of tourism experiences/businesses they want in the destination. This can be accomplished through 360-degree feedback initiatives.

 

Action

The DMO can suggest and advocate for evolving job opportunities in tourism that residents benefit from:
-    Free tours: leverage the freetour movement and engage local tour guides. 
-    Farm-to-table concepts: support local food producers and restaurants.
-    Niche travel: target aligned travelers who have a positive impact on locals. 
-    Travel with subject experts: local experts will be needed, from birdwatchers to uphill skiers. 
-    Immersive tourism: create possibilities for people that want to stay longer.

Progress: 

Farm to Table in Aspen

Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit

Advocate for housing crisis solutions
Phase II - Advocate
Action

By actively promoting Aspen’s “mind, body, spirit” mentality, perhaps ACRA can encourage all residents to give back.

Action

Advocate for a tax on short-term rental properties where the funds are allocated towards affordable housing initiatives.

Action

Support or advocate for a short-term accommodation study that supports the ongoing discussion with reliable data.

Action

Advocate for the development of additional affordable housing and affordable housing ratios.

Action

Establish a seat at the table for initiatives that are addressing the housing crisis so that the challenge is seen through a visitor economy lens, Chamber members have a voice representing them, and tourism can play a role in the solutions.

Action

Develop a communication strategy that demonstrates how the tourism industry is participating in housing crisis solutions. 

Develop resident ambassador program
Phase II - Lead + Partner
Action

Create an ambassador program. Provide incentives to locals to engage with the visitor economy and communicate the value in tourism. 
-    Set up Aspen Greeters to make visitors feel like guests and make them understand the community (such as the “Big Apple Greeters” program).
-    Develop an “Aspenites buddies” platform that could be a digital extension of the Aspen Greeters program. This is a mechanism through which Aspenites can communicate with tourists, second-home property owners, visiting friends and relatives, and business people who visit the region. Locals could use the platform to recommend must-see events and places.
-    Co-create the ambassador and buddy program with residents.

Action

Encourage local industry associations to bring their events to Aspen (e.g., law conferences, et cetera)

Action

Engage with local environmental groups and organize an end-of-season clean-up day. Turn this into an event that goes viral.

Progress: 

ACRA sponsors Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteer days and staff participate. Two days were sponsored in 2022. 

Action

Encourage visitors to participate in voluntourism and other activities with a positive environmental and community impact.

Action

Encourage community members through engagement and education to provide better quality customer experiences.

Action with Impact
Action with Impact is an initiative to show that residents have been heard and there is something being done to address their deepest concerns.

Actions with impact are actions that express the DNA of your community and are co-created and/or executed with your residents. Actions with impact are emblematic of your strategy. They are components of the regional story and also the means of telling that story. They give substance to the messages designed for visitors and residents. Actions with Impact have intrinsic communicative power and can take the form of innovation, legislation, an attribute that residents share, or a coordinated act that expresses the region’s Place DNA. Effective actions with impact are suggestive, remarkable, memorable, picturesque, newsworthy, topical, and/or poetic.

Action

Aspen needs to choose a purpose-based action that expresses the identity of the region. This type of action has multiple objectives:

•    Educate and demonstrate your values.
•    Boost civic pride and reinforce Aspenites’ love for their home.
•    A group hug during a challenging time when people are still facing the impacts of COVID-19.

Action

Stakeholders mentioned during the engagement process that they appreciated previous campaigns that had intrinsic symbolic value such as “Faces of Aspen”, “Heroes”, and “Relax, it’s Aspen”. You could even turn The Aspen Pledge into a more visible and celebrated action with impact.

We use cookies on our website to support technical features that enhance your user experience.

We also use analytics & advertising services. To opt-out click for more information.