The natural fire destroyed the small town’s economy in more ways than one, but repairing its tourism-friendly reputation is the first order to restoring its position as a population outdoors destination.
Tourism officials in the Royal Gorge area have agreed to spend $37,000 on a print and online ad campaign to lure back visitors after a devastating wildfire last month.
Officials want to spread the message that the area is open. The area has long attracted tourists with its popular railroad and historic bridge.
The wildfire burned 5 square miles and temporarily halted the Royal Gorge Route Railroad that runs 22 miles round-trip from Canon City to Parkdale and passes Colorado’s iconic Royal Gorge.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park lost 48 of its 52 buildings in the blaze. Its suspension bridge 955 feet above the Arkansas River suffered some fire damage and is still up. However, the park will be closed until fall because of damage from the fire that started on June 11.
The newspaper received the $10,000 for the ad campaign. Local television and media companies received the remainder of the advertising money.
Karl Wurzbach, general manager of Canon City Daily Record Media, said the print and digital campaign is expected to reach 3.5 million people, with ads on Yahoo and the paper’s sister publications, which include The Denver Post and Boulder Daily Camera.
The tourism campaign also is intended to persuade people to stay overnight. Lodging occupancy is down 40 to 50 percent, according to Lloyd Harwood, a member of the Fremont County Tourism Council and manager of Americas Best Value Inn and Suites in Canon City.
Money for the tourism campaign came from organizations including Sunflower Bank, the El Pomar Foundation and High Country Bank. Officials hope to start the campaign within a week.
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