From the Chamber: Evolving toward Destination Stewardship

Sarah Leonard
From the Chamber

After an incredible winter, summer is just around the corner. That means it’s time to get ready for a season filled with outdoor recreation, special events and visitors to our mountain paradise.

Since 1984, the Chamber has partnered with the City of Steamboat Springs to serve as the Destination Organization for the area, providing visitor and marketing services. We all know the past few years have seen unprecedented changes in the way people live, work, travel and recreate. We recognize that as an organization, we need to evolve as well.

We’re changing the way we operate as a Destination Organization, moving away from the traditional model of promotion and events to Destination Stewardship.

Destination Stewardship is an approach to managing a destination that helps balance the need for tourism with quality of life for residents. It involves enhancing the visitor experience while protecting our natural and cultural resources through responsible visitation messaging and programs to educate visitors, and it’s our primary focus for 2023.

The data shows tourism is important to our economy. Visitors to Routt County spend over $600 million each year, and more than 4,000 jobs are directly related to tourism. Visitors help pay for amenities we enjoy and now pay a 9% Short-Term Rental (STR) tax that will help fund affordable housing. Yes, tourism is important, but so is quality of life. Here’s how we’re evolving to find that balance.

Moving from Destination Promotion to Destination Stewardship

In the past, we’ve advertised to visitors on the Front Range and in other cities to come visit Steamboat Springs. This year, we’re shifting our efforts to speak to visitors that are already here. We’re focusing on responsible travel, sustainable tourism and having a minimal negative impact.

Have you heard of Kindness Floats the Boat? It’s our campaign that highlights the social, environmental, and personal impacts of visitation. There are three pillars:

Spread Kindness speaks to the way we treat people, take care of front-line staff and are patient with others around us.

Preserve the Place is about treading kindly on the environment and showing respect for wildlife and trails, as well as wildfire prevention.

Take Care encourages personal responsibility including Know Before You Go, knowing your limits and taking care of yourself in our mountain environment.

We’re using paid social media posts, video ads, digital paid media, and local radio to get this message in front of visitors.

Talk with Us

Tourism impacts the entire community, whether or not you work directly with visitors. That’s why we’re working to bring more visibility to our efforts and engage with residents.

  • Sign up for the Local Link at In the Link, we share our efforts as a Destination Organization, news about upcoming special events and their impacts, and how we’re communicating with visitors.
  • Follow Visit Steamboat Springs Instagram and Facebook to see what we’re sharing and share your own photos. Kenzie, our digital content manager, does a great job managing an incredible amount of content, sharing timely information and presenting the best Steamboat Springs has to offer.

Steamboat Springs is a great place to visit because it’s a great place to live and work. And it’s a great place to live because of all of you. Residents are a critical part of a successful Destination Stewardship, and we encourage you to share your thoughts with us. Come see us at the Visitor Center, give us a call, or stop and say hello at the Farmer’s Market. And remember, Kindness Floats the Boat. See you on the trails!

Sarah Leonard
Steamboat Springs Chamber/Courtesy photo

Sarah Leonard is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber. For more,

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