Area reports '13 tourism gains

Mesa Verde's shutdown hurt, but the Cortez area managed some tourism gains.

"Despite the shutdown, local lodging tax numbers remained strong for the year, up 8 percent over 2012," said Heather Hughes, director of tourism at Mesa Verde Country.

Hughes credited the uptick to volunteers at the Cortez Welcome Center who were able to give visitors other options to entice them to stay in the community.

"Visitation to the Colorado Welcome Center (at Cortez) so far has more than doubled over last year," she said.

Hughes said the Mesa Verde Country tourism office is developing a new brand, logo and website that would debut in May. She said those efforts and increased online advertising, should lead to record visitation numbers in 2014.

Four Corners destinations are working together to highlight travel options, and the National Park Service recently received a small grant from the TRIP Foundation to develop a more cohesive strategy.

"We often find that people wish they had planned more time in the Four Corners once they get here and discover all the possibilities," said City of Aztec Tourism Director Wilann Thomas.

The National Park Service report released March 3 shows that 83,788 visitors to Mew Mexico's Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument supported 65 jobs. Visitors to the two parks spent a total of $4.6 million in the region in 2012.

According to the report, most visitor spending, nearly 40 percent, supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores; nearly 30 percent sustains hotel, motels and bed and breakfasts; and 20 percent lifts other amusement and recreation.