ALAMOSA — Local representatives of the tourism industry couldn’t agree more with the statement that tourism in the San Luis Valley is recovering from the pandemic a lot faster than the rest of the state, particularly the front range.
Timothy Wolfe, recently appointed director of Colorado’s Tourism Office, made that assessment while meeting with SLV leaders here Tuesday morning at the Colorado Welcome Center. Kale Mortensen, executive director of Visit Alamosa, who introduced Wolfe to about a dozen in attendance, echoed his feelings when looking at lodging numbers locally.
Kathleen Murphy, director of the Creede-Mineral County Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from Saguache County agreed noting record tourism numbers in 2020 and continuing into 2021.
“City sales taxes in the town of Creede doubled last year from 2019,” Murphy said.
Wolfe estimated that tourism on the front range is still down about 35% from historic numbers. He talked about four or five grant programs that he is working on to promote and continue to grow tourism in Colorado.
Gigi Dennis, Alamosa County Administrator, and others encouraged the director to look at a tiered system of awarding grants across the state to avoid loading up larger population zones with funds. Wolfe, who is on a fact-finding mission around Colorado, said he would certainly take that into consideration.
Wolfe, who had planned to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Tuesday’s trip to the SLV, ran out of time after meeting with those at the welcome center. He called the Dunes a “geologic wonder,” and said the industry needs to continue to work on improving the tourism experience while continuing to be good stewards of the state’s resources.
With 25 years experienced in hospitality, Wolfe assumed his new role on Aug. 23 after being appointed by Pat Meyers, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).
“Tim is a proven leader with exceptional industry experience, market knowledge and an outstanding record of management success,” said Meyers in an announcement about the appointment. “As Colorado’s tourism industry continues its economic recovery, Tim’s hospitality and event experience will be invaluable in delivering a strong recovery for our urban centers and his understanding of Colorado’s local values is critical to effectively serving the diverse needs of our rural destinations across the state. His experience is tailored for this moment.”
Before his appointment as tourism director, Wolfe was most recently Complex General Manager of the 241-room iconic Brown Palace and the adjacent 231-room Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown, a post that capped extensive service for multiple hotel groups and distinguished hospitality properties. A former Colorado Tourism Board chairman and former board member for the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, his accolades include a 2015 induction into the CHLA Hall of Fame.