By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– According to the U.S. Travel Association, tourism jobs account for one-third to one-half of unemployment claims nationally. Colorado’s tourism industry also took a devastating hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

“Colorado tourism spending hit bottom in mid-April. At that point, traveler spending was down 89% compared to the same week a year earlier,” said Cathy Ritter, Director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “Everyone from restaurant workers, to hotel workers, to attractions are impacted.”

Rather than share a message nationally that states, “Come one, come all to Colorado,” the Colorado Tourism Office is starting their 2020 Summer marketing campaign close to home. As popular destinations being to open with restrictions, Colorado’s Tourism Office is encouraging residents to support the state’s industry by vacationing within driving distance.

“These are unprecedented times, so we’re taking the unprecedented step of marketing instate to restore our tourism economy,” explained Ritter, “We know that people from other states are showing up, but were not marketing them actively. Instead we’re intercepting them with messages about responsible tourism.”

(credit: CBS)

For the first time, the Colorado Tourism Office is directly targeting Coloradans. The goal is to inspire travelers to explore their own state, boost the tourism economy and put workers back on payrolls.

“We’re working with destinations and attractions across the state to put together special offers to make it very easy and attractive for travelers. This could give Coloradans ideas to visit places they’ve never been before,” said Ritter.

The Colorado Tourism Office is introducing a new online guide called “What’s Open in Colorado.” The traveler tool provides up-to-date information about destination offerings across the state.

In-state travelers are still expected to maintain best health practices, because while summer is just beginning, COVID-19 is far from over.

(credit: colorado.com/explore)

“We’re advising travelers to follow 5 simple steps: Keep a 6-foot distance from others, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick and check local guidelines. Some Colorado communities are ready to welcome travelers and some are not,” said Ritter.

The Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Tourism Office have also partnered together to reward travelers for supporting local dining with Colorado Restaurant Bingo.

For more information about in-state travel, visit https://www.colorado.com/colorado-travel-covid-19.

Tori Mason

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