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As if the financial success of the program was not enough, the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau “Adventure by Nature” initiative that supported tourism during the pandemic while promoting our need to protect the Arkansas River Valley, made a big impression at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference too.

The Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference was held in Pueblo, Colorado November 3 to November 5, 2021 at the Pueblo Convention Center. With over 300 applicants and one of three finalists for the award, the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau was awarded the top recognition:  The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Sustainable Tourism Initiative.

This honor is awarded to a project or program, event, or program that promotes reducing the impact of travelers on special places and natural resources in Colorado. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chaffee County saw increased visitation to their 567,000 acres of public lands. The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau created the Adventure By Nature Pledge to educate visitors about responsible recreation.

The Adventure By Nature Pledge is an outreach and education project supporting outdoor recreation, economic and visitor growth in Chaffee County by encouraging responsible recreation, stewardship principles, and best practices for visitors and residents recreating in the outdoors.

The Adventure By Nature pledge asks visitors while in Buena Vista and Salida, to “Stay on the trail, Be respectful, Recreate responsibly, Leave no trace.”

Image courtesy of the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.

Utilizing a Colorado Rural Academy For Tourism grant, the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau developed responsible recreation messaging that was implemented into the printed visitor guide. This information was also implemented on the visitors’ bureau’s website.

This responsible recreation content was developed into 15 videos and promoted on social media and embedded into their website and shared with stakeholders. This social media campaign generated more than three million impressions in June and July.

Additional campaign funding was obtained, in part by a Colorado Tourism Office Matching Marketing Grant. The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau contributed $20,000, Buena Vista Chamber Of Commerce $2,500,and the Salida Chamber Of Commerce $2,500.

In the effort to drive an economic impact during a pandemic while keeping Colorado beautiful, visitors are encouraged to take the Adventure By Nature pledge and incented with a free Discovery Pass encouraging them to spend locally.

Discovery Pass is a digital saving pass that gets pass holders over $800 in freebies and discounts on eats, drinks, shops, experiences and lodging in Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Nathrop Colorado.

This project was led by Chaffee County Visitors Bureau Marketing Director Scott Peterson. This campaign was created as a project for the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) two-year-long Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey, a tuition-based executive training program aimed at building the bench strength of the state’s tourism industry.

When asked about his leadership style Scott Peterson said “I hire great people and get out of their way.” David Curtis owner of 50 West Productions created the videos along with Mike Hagedorn, owner of Cloud Level Media. Angel Rowell was the project manager, (she and her husband Nik Rowell created the Discovery Pass)..

Scott Peterson presented at two breakout sessions at the conference as well as graduated from the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey.