ALAMOSA — The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) have teamed up to boost opportunities for travelers and to capitalize on the boom in agritourism experiences across the state. Currently, there are only two states in the U.S. that do not offer agritourism experiences of some Alaska and Nevada. But, Colorado is the first in the nation to pair heritage tourism and agritourism.
“Colorado is ahead of the game,” said Laura Grey, CTO program director for the heritage and agritourism program. A 2007 Colorado State University study reported that 75 percent of travelers participated in at least one agricultural, food or heritage activity on their trip to Colorado.
There is tremendous growth opportunity for agritourism. The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that of the 37,054 farms in Colorado, only 679—fewer than 2 percent reported agritourism income. This revenue was gained mostly from traditional hunting, outfitting and horseback rides to the increasingly popular farm dinners, cheese making classes, ranch stays and canning classes.
In a move to capture the potential, the CTO has contracted with Walden Mills Group (WMG) in Denver to craft a strategic plan. Judy Walden, president, notes interest in food has exploded across the country. Her team includes Amy Webb who has been a leader for 18 years in the nationwide development in heritage tourism; Kelli Hepler who organized the model Delta County Agritourism Program, now in its seventh year; and Dan Hobbs, a founding member of the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers that delivers local foods direct to restaurants and schools.
Regional strategic planning sessions are scheduled around the state to educate potential providers about the benefits of getting in the game and to glean valuable feedback from those currently involved in agritourism.
“This is a big tent, with room for everybody who wants to play,” said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office.
The event in the San Luis Valley will be held on November 5 in Alamosa at the Ramada (formerly Inn of the Rio Grande), 333 Santa Fe Ave. To RSVP contact: Laura Grey, Heritage & Agritourism Program Manager, Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 2700, Denver, 80202, 303-892-3885, firstname.lastname@example.org