City of Delta officials are enthused about a local effort to increase tourism revenue in partnership with Delta County Tourism and the Colorado Tourism Office.
The city was one of two communities in Colorado to qualify for CRAFT 201 -- Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism, a grant through the Colorado Tourism Office.
This grant does not carry any funding; rather, it provides a consultant to work directly with a steering committee headed by Wilma Erven, director of parks, recreation and culture for the City of Delta.
The consultant, Amy Cassidy of Eagle, has taken her hometown from a gas stop to a destination for travelers, Erven said. "She is just awesome! She is helping us develop tourism in a way that we market not only to the outside world, but to our own residents so they realize what we have to offer."
"I see the CRAFT grant as a real windfall that could help create a new and cost efficient industry for the city and county of Delta," said Nathan Clay, a council member who also serves on the steering committee, along with fellow council member Christopher Ryan. Also on the steering committee are Don Suppes, county commissioner; David Torgler, city manager; Kelli Hepler, Delta County Tourism; Stacey Voigt and Nicci Robbins, Delta County Economic Development; Darnell Place-Wise, public information officer for Delta County; and Sam Kimbriel, business owner and member of the Delta County Tourism Cabinet.
"Tourism is already here in many forms and is already moderately successful," Clay said. "However, it is an industry that is ready to be maximized and embraced. I believe that tourism is ready to grow, and needs to go mainstream in Delta.
"We all have to help if we hope to capitalize on this new and exciting opportunity; it must be a community effort," Clay said.
To that end, CRAFT is hosting a tourism town hall in conjunction with the chamber's business after hours Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Needle Rock Brewing Company in Delta. The business community is invited to join this gathering from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There is no charge.
"We want to provide information about where we're headed, what we'd like to see happen, and we'd like to have input from our businesses," Erven said. After the initial rollout, the CRAFT committee will be seeking input and ideas from the community at large.
"This project is in its infancy but represents a new hopeful Delta," Clay added. "Our citizens will ultimately decide whether we accept and embrace the tourist and their dollar or not."
The CRAFT group is working on a catchy tag line and a signature biking event, to be held this spring in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and Delta Area Mountain Bikers (DAMB).
"We're really excited to showcase the diversity of what we have for mountain bikers, as well as everything else we have to offer -- whether folks want to fish or float the river, ride the rapids in the spring, try out our disc golf course, or take a swing on our award-winning 18-hole golf course," Erven said.
While CRAFT 201 has brought expertise, not funding, to Delta County, Erven said there may be some money to help with project implementation. The City of Delta has also budgeted for a new marketing position in 2019, which create sustainability as this effort moves forward.
"I really, really feel this opportunity can be a catalist to help us move forward," Erven said.