Travelers with disabilities acknowledged by tourism board |

Travelers with disabilities acknowledged by tourism board

Members of the Colorado Tourism Office Board, who met here Monday, said they would begin incorporating images of travelers with disabilities on their Web page.

The announcement came against the backdrop of the Disabled Alpine World Cup taking place on the slopes of Mount Werner this week. It was prompted by a presentation from Steamboat Springs adaptive recreation consultant Craig Kennedy.

Kennedy told board members that Colorado is increasingly friendly to travelers with disabilities who seek outdoor recreation. However, he said, more could be done to communicate opportunities in the state.

“If we can give these people answers and tell them there are places to go, it goes a long way,” Kennedy said. A wheelchair user, he has a passion for skiing.

Tourism Board chairman Steve Szapor liked what Kennedy had to say.

“We need to take action before we lose this idea,” Szapor said. “We need to use some new photos mixed in with our existing collages,” printed in Colorado tourism promotional pieces.

Kennedy’s talk was entitled “Travelers with Disabilities, the Untapped Market.” He told the board members that Colorado is well positioned to lead other tourism states in reaching out to millions of Americans who enjoy active vacations. Kennedy said his efforts to make Steamboat Springs a more accessible travel destination have been well received by the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

The city acquired an adaptive golf cart for wheelchair users last summer and Ski Corp. is in the process of adding an adaptive gondola car.

“I’m glad you guys are here this week so you can see what these (adaptive ski racers) can do and see the need and keep people coming back to Colorado,” Kennedy said.

State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, and Colorado Ski Country USA executive Rob Perlman agreed that the most expedient way to reflect that the state is welcoming to travelers with disabilities is to incorporate photographs of adaptive recreation on the Web page.

“It could be done fairly economically,” White said.

Kennedy, who has done extensive research on accessible recreational opportunities across the state, said Colorado is a leader, particularly in year-round recreation. California is notable in terms of the numbers of adaptive athletes who live there, he said. Vermont and New Hampshire have good winter programs but are not as strong in the summer.

“Colorado has nine resort towns” with year-round opportunities for adaptive recreation, Kennedy said.

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