It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago when our lives changed forever as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Since then, as a community we have repeatedly risen to meet the many challenges the virus has wrought and now, with a fairly successful (but somewhat challenging) winter almost a wrap, we can see the finishing line of April 4 and offseason.
With that in mind, we at the Telluride Tourism Board, alongside local partners and in conjunction with the trio of local governments, are now turning our attention to summer.
Let’s begin first with how we think the summer of 2021 will look.
Even as an increasing amount of the population gets vaccinated, Americans look set to shun international travel and city getaways for a little while longer, and at the same time embrace the outdoors and outdoor recreation. They also look likely to drive instead of fly.
Accordingly, it seems probable that Telluride and Mountain Village, like other mountain towns across the West, will be popular just like last summer.
Of paramount importance to the tourism board, then, is continuing to act as a destination management organization, a posture that emphasizes protecting our town, our natural surroundings, and our identity and way of life.
What exactly does this mean?
First, it means an intensification of internal marketing and education — in other words, initiatives that are geared to visitors who are already here — on coronavirus safety, trails etiquette and clean-up, the importance of geotagging responsibly, and respecting the environment.
In this regard, we at the tourism board have partnered with the Telluride Mountain Club (on trails etiquette and clean-up days), the Telluride Ecology Commission and Mountain Village Green Team (respecting the environment) and others.
In addition, we welcome moves by the local governments to begin preparations now for communications, arrangements and infrastructure to make summer work.
At recent work sessions, Telluride Town Council continued to mull a revised outdoor dining plan that does not entail the closing of Main Street. Sure sounds like a good move, as it should prevent the traffic-flow issues that dogged our neighborhoods last summer.
Town council is also working on initiatives to ease pedestrian traffic flow, most especially on Colorado Avenue. These include encouraging use of Telluride Town Park and existing pocket parks like Elks Park and Spruce Park, identifying spaces alongside the river for picnicking, and the installation of more picnic tables and benches around town.
We are also looking at the possibility of continuing the Telluride ambassador program, whereby ambassadors can educate and direct people on COVID-related protocols and make activity suggestions designed to send people away from pinch points.
We plan to direct many visitors to Mountain Village to take advantage of the Telski’s bike park and new canopy tours, the cool outdoor dining scene, and common consumption area as well. Mountain Village Town Council has put in place initiatives to once again make Mountain Village a fun and pleasant place to be in the summer.
Last, we continue to make ourselves available to the arts and festivals communities as they sit down to their respective drawing boards to devise a vibrant but safe summertime arts scene.
We understand that Mountainfilm will be virtual this year, and Bluegrass may take the form of a series of smaller events (“a work in progress,” organizer Craig Ferguson told the Daily Planet last week).
What will the other festivals look like? How about Shakespeare in the Park and Art Walk? What role will the Transfer Warehouse play?
We know there are folks hard at work figuring this stuff out.
With all of this in mind, it’s worth remembering that Telluride, Mountain Village and the surrounding area are a single destination. Success this summer is based on our ability to collaborate on a unified response that addresses logistics, programming, communication and more.
The Telluride Tourism Board stands ready and waiting to be a conduit to our visitors, to educate, inspire and inform them — for example, by urging them to take the Tell-U-Right pledge at telluride.com/plan/blog/take-the-tell-u-right-pledge) — in ways that ensure that our community and natural surroundings, as well as our identity and way of life, are all protected.