The Colorado Creative Corridor

A map shows the route that traverses the newly created Colorado Creative Corridor. (Courtesy photo)

 

A collaborative marketing effort by 10 organizations in five mountain towns aims to increase tourism through promotion of the Colorado Creative Corridor, a 331-mile route connecting five state-designated Creative Districts. 

The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce is contributing $5,000 to the marketing campaign, which is also funded by a $25,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office and $20,000 in matching funds from other partner organizations.

“The primary focus is attracting in-state visitors to lesser known tourist areas and also attracting them during times of the year that are less traveled. Of course, this will attract out-of-state visitors as well and they will want to visit these communities, not only for our wonderful outdoor recreation, but they will be enticed to stay in town more and support the creative arts, which in turn will support all of the local businesses,” Chamber Manager Peri Gore said.

Chamber Board President Colin Lacy added: “The kinds of visitors we think will be attracted to this corridor are those who will want to spend time in the community, visiting shops, museums, galleries and restaurants, spending the night, and participating in outdoor activities as well. These are not folks just looking to buy a T-shirt and keep driving. We see that as an opportunity to boost visitation across the board, and even attract future residents in the process.”

The Tourism Council of Carbondale, a group organized by the Carbondale Community Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded the grant application. Other partners include the Town of Ridgway through its Creative District, the Creative Districts of Carbondale, Crested Butte and Salida, the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau, Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association, Delta County Tourism Council and North Fork Creative Coalition.

The state has 21 Creative Districts, including Telluride and Mancos in southwestern Colorado. 

“For the first year, our focus was on rural, non-resort tourism destinations. As we get going in the future, it would be great to get more entities on board,” said Andrea Stewart, executive director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

Diedra Silbert, Ridgway community initiatives facilitator, said: “Each town will be focusing on its own unique assets, and we think Ridgway will sell itself as a worthwhile stop with all that we have to offer from our creative assets (arts and entertainment, culinary experiences, history and heritage, health, and wellness) to our natural beauty and outdoor activities. Ridgway is the only town on the Creative Corridor that also is a designated main street community and on the Hot Springs Loop.”

The Creative Corridor campaign is designed very similarly to the Historic Hot Springs Loop on colorado.com. A 720-mile route through five destinations, the Hot Springs Loop won a Best Idea Program Award from the Destination Marketing Association of the West, and reportedly garnered an estimated equivalent of $5.5 million in editorial media coverage. 

The focus of the marketing efforts is a “brand channel” for the corridor on colorado.com, which will feature trip-planning information and itineraries, including a downloadable map and event calendars, as well as what to see along the route between the towns. Itineraries will appeal to various visitor types such as families, foodies and art enthusiasts, and will recommend activities, events, locations to visit, lodging and dining. Potential themes for the website are signature festivals, doors open for the off-season, knife-and-fork journeys, arts and wellness experiences, and seasonal activities.

The brand channel and online advertising will launch in May to coincide with the Colorado Creative Industries Summit. 

A corridor team with representatives from each community meets regularly. Current tasks include the development of a brand and messaging by Carbondale graphic designer Laura Stover, and the creation and gathering of creative assets such as photos and videos for use on websites, in newsletters, and for online advertising and social media campaigns. 

“The chamber and the Ridgway Creative District will work together to lay the foundation for visitors, so that when they arrive here, it’s clear what’s available, which places are open and how to find all these creative activities,” Silbert said. “This will be a great opportunity for Ridgway businesses, artisans, studios, restaurants, healing practitioners and galleries to jump on board for some additional exposure and marketing. We are focused on bringing year-round visitors, not just summer visitors, to the area.”

Editor’s note: Tanya Ishikawa is a freelance public relations professional with work appearing on the Ridgway Chamber of Commerce website and in the visitors guide.