Destination management is protecting the quality of life for Aspen residents while preserving the very reason people enjoy coming here.
ACRA’s Destination Management Plan Process:
What is Destination Management?
Destination management is about protecting the quality of life for our residents while preserving the very reason people enjoy coming here. Our community is a mature destination, and our residents understand our roots as a tourist destination, but we are looking to find harmony between the two so that Aspen can be a sustainable destination into the future. We started with a move towards responsible tourism tactics in 2015, focusing on visitor facing education and dispersion tactics and now it is really time to engage residents.
What is a Destination Management Plan?
We assess the current state of our local tourism-based economy and work in partnership with the community to proactively map the evolution of marketing and management for our destination into the future.
It is a pivotal time in the travel industry. Tourism and its impacts have grown globally in the past few decades, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that were just focused on marketing have been left behind. As a sophisticated destination, it’s crucial that we avoid a residential rebellion that we are seeing and hearing about in other places.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to diversify our economy and create resilience as we look to the future. In 2000 the first lodging tax passed, and ACRA was given the directive to increase summer tourism. Within the past decade, we shifted to promoting the shoulder seasons and mid-week visitation. Once again it is time to evolve and see how we can build resilience and sustainability into our economy and quality of life.
ACRA has a five year strategic plan, which began in 2020. Destination Management Planning is part of that strategic plan, and we are thrilled to be starting work on this project, one we have frequently spoken about internally.
How long did this take?
This was a 7-month process led by Destination Think.
Who is in charge?
ACRA is leading the process as Aspen’s Destination Management Organization, but the plan belongs to the community. The project directly engaged stakeholders through interviews, surveys, and virtual town halls. The strategies were developed through the collection of tourism stakeholders' and community members' input.
Destination Think led the project team, but ultimately the strategy is designed to benefit the residents of Aspen.
Findings from the plan include items that are outside of ACRA’s purview, but since the plan belongs to the community, various stakeholders will take ownership in findings directly within their wheelhouse.
How is this funded?
The contract with Destination Think was paid for by ACRA’s Destination Marketing budget. ACRA is under contract with the City of Aspen to provide Destination Marketing services. Destination Marketing is funded by 75% of the 2% Aspen Lodging tax, collected by lodging properties and remitted to the City of Aspen.
More information on Destination Think: Destination Think