As we reported online, the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau has named Doug Price, a senior vice president with Destination Marketing Association International in Washington, D.C., to replace longtime CEO Terry Sullivan.
Price, of course, said he is eager to start his new position on Jan. 3. I caught up with Price this week by phone to ask him a few questions.
What are you looking forward to most with this new position?
Professionally, I have been in a position with DMAI for the last seven years. I’ve traveled all over the world and trained people on customer service, selling skills and how to sell a destination. I’m looking forward to taking those lessons I’ve taught to thousands of people, and applying it to a single destination, and being able to see the results of that.
From a personal standpoint, I’m looking forward to the change in lifestyle. The cost of living is dramatically different in El Paso County, and the quality of life for me, of not having to spend two hours a day commuting — well, I will be a different person. These things really factored into the why of Colorado Springs.
What is your first goal?
To try and work with the different business leaders throughout the Pikes Peak region to help them understand the impact that tourism has on our community, and how important it is that we fund it, and that the residents of the area see the benefits and return on investment that tourism has for the entire destination.
Often we are considered the invisible industry. The industry gets the light shined on it when there’s an oil spill in the gulf, a flood in Nashville, or immigration issues in Arizona. It gets the spotlight in a negative consequence way. But I don’t think it needs to be that way.
We can have a positive impact and that’s what I’ll be working on with the board and staff — to help educate the residents.
How many countries have you visited, and which country is your favorite?
Twenty countries. Hands down, Australia. Also, Germany, and I have to really say that I loved the U.K.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
We love to go to the New Jersey shore, as East Coast people for the last few years. We’ve also come to Colorado Springs — two years ago for a significant birthday, and that’s when the seed was planted (to move here).
Manitou Springs began its multi-phase redevelopment project in 2004. So far, each phase of the project has met budget and has been on time, said Mike Leslie, deputy city administrator.
The next phase, 5b, was slated to start in 2014 but may now be moved to next year, because the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments had a budget surplus.
Grant funding for the project, $1 million, was spread out in equal increments over five years, from 2010 to 2014.
The projects have not hurt tourism, as the construction periods were specifically set from January through May, to avoid the tourist season.
“I think the downtown revitalization has had a positive effect,” Leslie said.
Manitou has bucked local and national trends, all through the economic downturn. The city is on pace to collect 10 percent higher sales-tax revenue this year than last year, he said.
And retail is even higher. As of the end of August, retail sales-tax revenue was up 23.8 percent for the year, said Leslie Lewis, director of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce.
“Construction hasn’t hurt (business), and we didn’t have to go through furloughs or layoffs. We had tight budgets, but we didn’t cut services of any kind,” Lewis said.
She attributes the increase in retail sales-tax collection to the downtown redevelopment, which created a more “pedestrian-friendly” atmosphere.
Some of the newer stores offer items that people buy as gifts for themselves or others, she said. These shops are bringing in people from Colorado Springs, as well.
Traffic sometimes still gets congested, especially after the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway train returns to the depot from the summit of the mountain. But most merchants are thrilled with the eventual outcome of the redevelopment, she said.
Downtown Manitou was reduced from four lanes to three lanes. The middle one is a turning or loading and unloading lane, sidewalks are much wider, now. The city is also considering adding another roundabout at the teardrop intersection of Ruxton and Park avenues, by Tubby’s Turn Around. When phase 5b begins, that section of town will also get pedestrian lighting, landscaping, wider sidewalks, and a concrete center turning lane.
Rebecca Tonn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-329-5229. Friend her on Facebook.