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TTC reviews year, will hold Jan. 6 open meeting

The Town Tourism Committee is reporting positive news, not just in the increased number of visitors to the area (see related article on page A1), but in what the TTC is doing to continue to promote tourism throughout the area.

As seen in a report released last week by the TTC, lodger’s tax collections (a leading indicator suggesting the number of visitors to the area) increased 8.51 percent through October 2010 relative to the same period last year. According to the report, that increase has amounted to additional $25,295.67 in lodger’s tax revenues (all of which fund the TTC).

The TTC said in the report that 2010 has also performed 17.44 percent better than the same period in 2008 and 12.08 percent better than the same period in 2007 — about the time when the current recession had begun its free-fall both nationally and locally.

While the report claims that the boost in tourism over the last two years means that, “increased lodgers tax amounts to an additional $4 million in sales tax revenues to the community,” the report went on to say that, “(w)hile the increases are excellent, especially as compared to other communities in Colorado, the Town Tourism Committee has an aggressive long-term strategy to continue to increase tourism to the area.”

The most notable project that the TTC has embarked upon was reported two weeks ago in The SUN — purchasing a chairlift to install on Reservoir Hill.

Using $41,000 in town funds, the TTC secured the lift from the Cuchara Ski Area and “will begin developing a business plan for Reservoir Hill,” the report said.

Furthermore, the TTC reported that it has, “started the Reservoir Hill Task Force, formed of over 20 community members, to enhance the recreational amenities on Reservoir Hill,” but failed to mention how that task force complements or conflicts with the town’s own Parks and Recreation Commission, the entity that would normally plan and implement recreation projects within town boundaries.

If the lift is constructed (with an estimated cost of $300,000), it would transport skiers, snowboarders and sledders up the hill for a brief run down slopes — the TTC is in the process of finishing a sledding and snowboarding run on the hill, but has proposed more runs if the lift is installed.

In the summer, the lift could provide transportation up the hill for mountain bikers, hikers, sightseers and attendees of festivals held on the hill. Summertime use of the lift, in fact, necessitated one of the retrofits for the lift: the Cuchara lift currently allows for uploading; a Reservoir Hill lift would also require downloading capabilities to accommodate festival attendees or other visitors to the hill who find a descent too difficult.

In order to solicit input on the Reservoir Hill project, the TTC has scheduled an open community meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center. Stating that, “We want the community involved in shaping the future of this incredible town asset,” the TTC will present its three-year plan for Reservoir Hill, as well as field questions about ongoing projects on the hill.

Among other accomplishments listed in the report, the TTC also included that it had developed a “new sledding hill and snowboarding run on Reservoir Hill and began work to improve roads and create additional parking area,” launched a new tourism website (www.visitpagosasprings.com), along with improving presence on social networking sites and further Internet visibility and, finally, moved forward with the town’s Wayfinding and Signage Plan, installing two signs downtown during the summer, along with “reintroducing colorful flag banners and facelifts to the gateway signs as you enter Pagosa.”

In concluding the report, TTC Coordinator Jennie Green stated that further questions regarding the TTC could be directed via e-mail to sales@visitpagosasprings.com or by calling her at 903-9728.

jim@pagosasun.com