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Tourism in Southeast Colorado

Welcome to Southeast Colorado!

The plentiful grasslands, historical sites, and growing economy in the Southeast region of Colorado allow businesses a wide spectrum of opportunity to flourish with economic success. Our community is proud to support, and maintain, business success within many different realms of the workforce. Such professions include:

farming, agriculture, manufacturing, recycling and waste removal, technology, engineering, construction, nursing, accounting, education, cosmetology, machinery, artistry, hospitality, real estate, and much, much more.

Welcome to Our Beautiful Home!

Photo Credit: Paul Arelleno

Tourism in Southeast Colorado

Known for it’s natural beauties- like the Arkansas River, the Rocky Mountain National Park, and Garden of the Gods, Colorado has been a hub for tourism activity since its inception. And, in addition to these world-renown national sites, the sprawling grasslands and bountiful countryside of Southeast Colorado has provided Tourists with economic opportunity for hundreds of years.

Overflowing in it’s rich history, Southeast Colorado is home to some of the countries most prolific national historic sites, and nomadic activity has been the heart of business for the region for many generations. So, if you’re an entrepreneur thinking about opening a business in tourism, Southeast Colorado is the place to be!

Our story begins in 1833 when trappers, traders, and travelers, seeking refuge from the scorching country sun, made a business deal with the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of the region. This deal resulted in the construction of an adobe trade-post where the Cowboys and Indians of the Ol’ West could trade their goods, primarily fur, in peace. This post, known now as Bent’s Fort National Historic Site, provided the region with purpose and business opportunity– benefiting even today’s society. Today, the Bent’s Fort National Historic Site allows visitors to relive what life was like for business men and women traveling through the Bent’s Fort Trading Post. Living Historians recreate the sights, sounds, smells, and over-all experiences of the past with guides tours, demonstrations, and special events.

Coupling the advances of the modern world with the heart and spirit of the Ol’ West, Southeast Colorado is the perfect playground for both entrepreneurs and travelers, alike, to discover their business dreams, and more importantly, relive history.

What Does Owning a Tourism Business in Southeast Colorado Look Like?

In the ever evolving world we live in today, the use of technology is becoming much more prevalent in business activity; thus, allowing travel to become much more accessible to entrepreneurs- not only in rural areas, but in diverse communities, all over the world. And, the tourism industry has expanded over the years, allowing individuals to capitalize on every resource available– creating streams of revenue in unexpected places. And, in Southeast Colorado specifically, dreamers have been finding entrepreneurial opportunities in so many different realms of tourism business– I guess you could say, “We’re the Hidden Gem of the Grasslands!”

The Bent’s Fort National Historic Site is the cornerstone to business transactions in the region, being one of the first establishments to introduce the barter-and-trade system to Southeast Colorado. Alongside Bent’s Fort National Historic Site, a multitude of other entrepreneurs, and governmental entities, have capitalized on the region’s breath-taking world wonders– such as the Picket Wire Canyonlands, the Colorado Gators Reptile Park, the Comanche National Grassland Dinosaur Tracks, the Santa Fe Trail, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the UFO Watchtower, Bish-op’s Castle, and much, much more.

For the region of Southeast Colorado, entrepreneurs capitalizing on tourist attractions have created a main-stay for business activity in the area. It’s happened for hundreds of years, and for the prosperity of our hometowns down here in the Ol’ West– tourism business is going to continue being a prevalent attribute in our society. Why not capitalize on it yourself?

Blogger, Nelson James, at Signs.com says it best,

“Some towns live and die by the activity of tourists; others merely enjoy the bounty of extra cash flow during the warm months of the tourist season. If your business is located in a tourism-reliant town, you’re probably always more than ready for the big in-migration of dollars. But the rest of us might benefit from thinking about the ways in which tourists impact our town – and, as a result, impact our bottom line. In the United States, tourism peaks in the summer months of June, July and August. The kids are out of school and people take their vacation days at work. Lots of vacationers head for locations like Disney World, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. But others go to everyday cities in order to visit family, or stop by because of airfare deals or on their way through to somewhere else.”

The wonderful thing about Southeast Colorado is the charm of our hometowns, couple that with world-renown national historic sites– and you have the perfect storm to sweep the “in-migration dollars” to our region.

Unexpected Examples of Profitable Business Opportunities in the Tourism Industry:

(Specific to Southeast Colorado)

Tourist Lodging

Landowners in Southeast Colorado have a unique opportunity to offer short-term leasing on homes, condos, apartments, barns, refurbished silos, and even tree houses.

Don’t be afraid to be creative and unique. Offer guests the true Ol’ West experience.

Vacation Vehicle Rentals

Use your fleet of cars, vans, buses, or even horse-drawn wagons to offer ride -sharing services, like Uber or Lyft. Utilize your knowledge of the region to offer tourists an interpersonal experience of Southeast Colorado. Act as a buffer or Tour-guide, creating additional stream of income!

Cultural Entertainment

The different mixing pot of travelers in the region has created opportunities for individuals from all walks of life, with a plethora of different ideas to cash in on the ever-expanding market. Southeast Colorado provides an authentic experience in all forms of entertainment, service, and hospitality.

Content Creator

With the rise in social media, and the introduction of picture-perfect camera quality on smartphones–mostly anyone can be a photographer these days. Capitalize on the beauties of the region and provide a euphoric atmosphere for travelers to create content. This could be anything from allowing travelers to do a photoshoot on your farm, to you yourself traveling place to place– maybe, with a horse-drawn carriage and Old Western photo booth?

Tour Guide

Guided tours through both the lush natural preserves and urban developments have become more and more popular, creating another accessible form of income for those looking to make a profit in the tourism industry. As a local, you know the region better than anyone else – use this to your advantage and show tourists the hidden gems of Southeast Colorado!

Haunted Ghost Tours, Harvest Festivals, Fishing Exhibitions, Storm Chasers, Deer Hunters, Shooting Arenas – all of these businesses are guided tours. And, Tourist love –em!

Online Souvenir Retailer

The rise of ecommerce has allowed the essence of brick and mortar specialty shops to thrive online. Share the spirit of the West with the world! And, find profit from home. Selling local specialty items to consumers online allows tourists access to the arts and crafts specif-ic to Southeast Colorado, and gives you a diverse market to provide an authentic, and tangi-ble, experience.

Translator

A linguist can either place their services on the open market, seek employment with businesses looking for translators. Or, as a bilingual person, you can open your own small business and offer linguistic services to tourists, locals, and fellow business people, alike.

Authentic Experiences

As business models vary, one attribute that resonates within all the tourist businesses within the Southeast region is authenticity. As a local, being familiar with the area’s cultural aspects and morals is a huge advantage. Whether your business is a restaurant, bar, hair salon, or mechanic shop– having an authentic and cultural ambience, categorizes your business as a tourist attraction. The main point is to be proud of where you come from, and to share that pride with others. Tourists will respond.

10 Ways to Capitalize on Tourism in Your Town:

(Written by Nelson James at Signs.com)

  1. Find out where visitors stay while they’re in your town. Identify the most popular hotels for your demographic – business travelers tend to stay in different hotels than families, for instance.
  2. Identify the places people visit while they’re in your town. What kinds of things are they doing? Do they go to art museums, zoos, parks? Are they hiking, cycling, hanging out at the beach?
  3. Check out your town’s calendar of events. My tiny town hosts a huge car race and several motorcycle races every summer. Normally not a “tourist town,” the place fills up with racers and fans for several weeks.
  4. Contact the Chamber of Commerce to see when conventions will be held in your town. Your local Board of Tourism may have this information, too. Conventioneers come with plenty of spending cash – much of it in the form of corporate credit cards, so the money flows pretty freely.
  5. Identify the kinds of things that visitors want or need while they’re in your town. If families come to hang out at the beach, they’ll need sunscreen, hats, beach towels and sand toys. If businessmen come for conventions, they might spend money on clothing, food and entertainment.
  6. Set up your business to accommodate visitors. In the case of events or conventions, make special signs welcoming guests. If appropriate, place items for tourists on the sidewalk in front of your store, or just inside the front door. Advertise that those items are available.
  7. Don’t forget the local merchandise. No matter who is visiting, odds are that they’ll want to take home a souvenir and maybe some gifts for family and friends. If your store will get tourist traffic, offer locally made goods and souvenir mugs, magnets, etc. Match the price point to the prices of the goods you normally carry. For instance, a convenience store might carry low-priced magnets and hats; a more upscale gift shop or clothing store might carry higher-priced shirts, jackets, framed prints, etc.
  8. If your shop is nowhere near hotels or attractions, don’t despair. Place advertising in those locales. For instance, you can become a patron to the art museum or zoo and place an ad in their brochure. Or, install a billboard near popular hotels, alerting tourists to your store several blocks away.
  9. Participate in events that bring tourists. Participate in popular farmer’s market and community event. Booths typically include the typical farmers’ wares such as fruits, vegetables and honey, but also feature local artisan crafts.
  10. Participate in convention expos and market yourself as local. When conventions come to town they usually set up an expo floor featuring companies that offer products that attendees need. Set up a booth and make sure to include your local location in your advertising. Invite attendees to visit your business -perhaps even host a party or special sale.

Entities to consider contacting when opening a business in tourism:

Where can I find help concerning business in the tourism industry in Southeast Colorado?

Otero County:

Pamela Denahy, 
Director of Tourism/Events Coordinator

City of La Junta, Colorado 81050
pdenahy@ci.la-junta.co.us
P: (719) 384-5991
F: (719) 384-7231

Las Animas County:

Trinidad Tourism Board
309 Nevada Ave.
Trinidad, Colorado 81082
P: (719) 846-9512
marty.hackett@colorado.com

Bent County:

Bent County Development Foundation
322 Amb Thompson Boulevard,
Las Animas, Colorado 81053
(719) 456-0452

Kiowa County:

Economic Development Foundation
1311 Maine St # 11
Eads, Colorado 81036

Baca County:
Office of Economic Development
29400 US Highway 287
Springfield, Colorado 81073
P.O. Box 95
P: (719) 335-2244

Crowley County:
Crowley County Chamber of Commerce
631 Main Street / PO BOX 332
Ordway, Colorado 81063
(719) 276-5225
chamber@corlweycounty.net

Prowers County:
Prowers County Development, Inc.
1301 North Main Street, Suite 103
Lamar, Colorado 81052
(719) 336-2384

Southeastern Colorado:
Southern CO Economic Development District
1104 North Main Street
Pueblo, Colorado 81003
(719) 545-8680

Discover all the natural beauties and tourist attractions Southeast Colorado has to offer:

Discover Tourism in Southeast Colorado

Romance is a risky business for tarantulas in Southeastern Colorado, but the great migration must happen! Youtuber, 9News explores one of Colorado’s greatest love stories- Colorado’s Great Tarantula Migration. Fall in love with Southeast Colorado as we give you a front row seat!

Fox31 Denver’s Ashley Michael briefly describes the natural beauties and wonders of La Junta, Colorado. From galloping antelope, world famous cantaloupes, and love sick night-crawlers- Southeast Colorado has it all! Experience the past with one of North America’s largest dinosaur track migrations, and make new memories for the future and attend Colorado’s yearly Great Tarantula Migration! Welcome home.

Youtuber, Tyler Lee, takes viewers through an intimate look at Lake Pueblo State Park, home to one of Southeast Colorado’s best boating, fishing, hiking, and fishing sites.

Pikes Peak Region Attraction presents: The Royal Gorge- a narrative description of America’s Highest suspension bridge, a legendary feat of engineering that is world renowned.

YouTuber, NPS Inventory and Monitoring, examines Bent’s Fort National Historic Site in, “Part 1 of a Series Examining the Connections Between Humans and Nature Along the Santé Fe Trail.”

YouTuber, Jeremy Weathers’, “Spotlight on Southeast Colorado,” was produced for Southeast Rural Philanthropy Days in Trinidad, Colorado, September 24th-26th, 2014.

“COLORADO: Lamar to La Junta, A Santa Fe Trail Itinerary” by YouTuber, TravelingJules: “Come explore the Canyons and Plains of Southeast Colorado near Lamar and La Junta with Travel Video Journalist, Juliana Broste, aka TravelingJules. On this action packed three-day road trip, we’ll see dinosaur footprints in Picket Wire Canyon (4:02), the largest dinosaur track site in North America (4:43)! We’ll visit Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site (0:33) — it’s like being in a living museum. This is where traders, trappers, travelers and Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes peacefully traded goods along the Santa Fe Trail. We’ll also visit the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site 2:26 and learn about an event that changed the Great Plains forever. We’ll also take a hike in Vogel Canyon (5:56) to see rock art and make friends with the wild tarantulas. All this, and more...only in Colorado!”a

The Southeast Colorado Power Association’s YouTube channel- Renewables and You! presents, “Southeastern Colorado renewable energy projects.”

Youtube Documenter, Moviesauce explores the history of what Coloradoans call “a modern day castle” and interviews both, it’s ecentric creator, and his closest family and friends. Bishop’s castle is a self-built castle located in Beulah, Colorado and was built by the notoriously outspoken, John Bishop. Along-side his branded zaniness, John’s awe inspiring creativity has cemented Bishop’s Castle as a must-see in Southeast Colorado.

Do you have more questions about the tourism industry in Southeast Colorado?

 The Southeast Colorado SBDC consultant team consists of six members, each specializing in distinct realms of business and education. Get in touch with a member of our team today and get more information working in the tourism industry.

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