Letter: Steamboat Chamber serves an important role in our community

There has been a lot of discussion about the impacts of tourism on our community over the last few years. Certainly we all have to deal with traffic issues, some crowds and occasionally the challenging few who make our day less pleasant.

But I was thinking about the benefits of robust tourism and wanted to share these thoughts. First, for a community of our size, we have an excellent array of restaurants and bars for our dining and socializing pleasure. Second, we enjoy a hospital and medical professionals that far exceed our population’s need. Third, the retail shopping options, in particular sporting goods, exceed what you would find in a town of 13,000. Fourth, the bands, rodeo and entertainment options we enjoy are partially supported by visitors. Finally, there is that money thing. Tourism supports many businesses here and many more businesses prosper providing support to the hospitality related businesses. The visitor’s money has a footprint all over this town.

I came to Steamboat many times as a visitor before deciding to plant our roots hear in the late ’90s. It was not as crowded then but a lot more crowded than when I first visited in the ’70s. I am certainly thankful that friends and siblings brought me out here. For many, getting out of the city and taking a break from work to enjoy our town, landscape and local hospitality is the highlight of their year. Maybe it is just me, but the visitors I meet are overwhelmingly pleasant and thankful to be here.

Traffic issues have been exaggerated by road construction, fires and slides in Glenwood Canyon, road median work this past summer and a COVID-based shift in tourism toward outdoor vacations. We have been found out, but there are other options for folks to visit and spend their money. Folks react to reminders and encouragement to visit a place and the Steamboat Chamber has productively invested local money to create interest in our community and drive visitors to plan their trips here.

If some percentage of these travelers moved onto other compelling mountain towns, whose job would go away? How many sales tax dollars would evaporate? How many young kids would not enjoy the glory of a mountain morning? How many of our favorite hangouts would close? Before we take away the modest funding allocated to attract visitors, consider all the consequences versus just the positive result of less crowds.

Randall Rudasics

Steamboat Springs

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