City Council shouldn’t cut LART dollars sent to CVB

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Dear Editor:

As a member of the board of directors for Experience Colorado Springs (the local convention and visitors bureau), I offer a different perspective on how the local bureau operates to solicit and retain tourism dollars.

Many people think of a CVB as an antiquated visitor center in a world where all facets of a trip can be transacted online. Others have an impression that the CVB employs a paid welcoming committee for the city, which in today’s cash starved economy has no place.

What I’ve learned from my four years on the board is that our local CVB has always made recruiting tourists, conferences, conventions and any out-of-town business priority No. 1.

Priority No. 2 has been marketing our destination to achieve No. 1.

Staff conversations at the modest visitor center and administrative office on the corner of Cascade Avenue and Cimarron Street continually revolve around “leads.” I will commit that the current staff flat out hunts down these leads and turns them into tourist dollars.

“Why can’t businesses do their own marketing and solicit these groups?”

The answer is simple: these leads expect a CVB to comprehensively handle the entire needs of their group. If our CVB can’t provide that service, these groups will choose a destination that can.

When these tourists come to town, they spend 5-10 times more per day than an average resident of our city does in the same day. These vital tourists eat most of their meals in restaurants, visit multiple attractions and shopping areas, and most of all fund the LART (lodging and auto-rental tax).

The already declining LART is what keeps the CVB hunting down those leads worldwide. The fact is sales and LART taxes generated by tourism keeps citizens employed, and keep our general fund at a level suitable to administer our shrinking municipal government.

I would ask that members of City Council reconsider their recent plan to cut the allocation of LART revenue that enables the CVB to succeed.

Luke J. Travins, Owner — Jose Muldoon’s, Ritz Grill, MacKenzie’s Chop House