Marketing Tourism

Westcliffe, Colorado- nestled in a broad valley between the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Christo range- is on a mission to attract more tourists.  I hate to mention our attractions because someone will write to tell me that I forgot to mention their favorite, but I’m thinking along these lines because when I was in London, I saw promotional ads for Las Vegas.

The ads run horizontally above the seats and parallel to the ceiling in the subway cars. Unless you come prepared to take the Tube with a book or a newspaper at-the-ready, the only way to void eye contact with the person sitting opposite is to look up and read the ads.  On my most recent visit, I was tickled to read ads marketing tourism in Las Vegas.

An accent is always a come-on.

An accent is always a come-on.

All the ads sparkled with glitz, and the message was saucy. (My goodness! “Saucy”? How dated is that! You would think that my mother was writing this blog, not me.) The ads vary, but the tagline always titillates: “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” Another poster read: “Visit a place where your wild side has a wild side.” A  third ad read: “The holiday you won’t write home about.”

A few days after seeing the ads, I passed four or five blokes standing on the corner. They were back-slapping and fired up about their up-coming Stag Party… in Las Vegas… where “What happens there, stays there.”

As for Westcliffe, I don’t think the Las Vegas tagline fits:  No one would choose Westcliffe for stag party.

If you climb over 14,000 feet up the Crestone Needles, go ahead… tell your friends. If you hook a prize-winning trout… be sure to share that with your dentist. If a good-looking girl driving a beat-up truck offers you a ride to the post office… you can tell your wife. This town is so small your wife probably knows her. (And if you don’t tell her, your neighbors will.)

I’d say that we are more “wholesome” than “saucy.” Although “wholesome” sounds… wholesome. (When did “wholesome” come with negative connotations?) We have hiking, boating, fishing, a skateboard park, a dog park, a bowling alley, a community gym (to include a swimming pool), a thriving art scene, music festivals, non-stop, Summer Theater and more. We have more, but we don’t have glitz.

Heavy on the Head Caryatids at St Pancras New Church, Greek Revival 1819.

Heavy on the Head
Caryatids at St Pancras New Church, Greek Revival 1819.

Maybe we should be marketing life in the slow lane. We wave to passing cars; we talk to strangers; and we stop neighbors in the middle of the street to inquire about the number of newborn calves and the state of their mother-in-law’s gall bladder.

Writing of the general population, we carry too much with us. There’s our computer, our smart-phone, our car keys, the demands of our jobs, the needs of our family, our volunteer obligations, dozens of passwords, and identity theft anxiety to say nothing of job security, politics, and environmental concerns. We are weighed down with “stuff.”

Maybe we should promote a visit to Westcliffe as a respite from “stuff.”

For the most part, those of us who choose to live here feel a deep connection to the landscape, the quiet, and our dark skies. As of March 4, The International Dark-Skies Association recognized Westcliffe/Silver Cliff as the ninth dark skies community. At that point we joined the other dark skies communities of Sedona and Flagstaff, AZ; Beverly Shores, IN; Dripping springs, TX; Homer Glen, IL; Borrego Springs, CA; and farther afield, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Coll, Scotland.

Those of us who choose to live here are can-do, creative, outdoor folks who love the land and want to preserve it and our lifestyle. We have no intention of bringing in gambling, showgirls, or the current equivalent of the “Rat Pack.”

Local distance riders train for Ride the Rockies.  From left Brent Bruser, Jim Gearhart, Mark Stamper, Mark Dembosky, Lori Fox and Locket Pitman.

Local distance riders train for Ride the Rockies.
From left Brent Bruser, Jim Gearhart, Mark Stamper, Mark Dembosky, Lori Fox and Locket Pitman.

As outdoor enthusiasts, we are thrilled that Westcliffe has been chosen as the final destination for the 30th anniversary of Ride the Rockies– a seven-day bike ride that covers 465 miles and climbs 40,537 feet. It is a serious ride for 2,000 seasoned riders. Registration opened and closed in less than a week. This year the ride will start June 13 in Grand Junction and make its way east to the finish line in Westcliffe on the 20th.

It is a thin line we are walking. We want the tourists, but we want to maintain our small town vibe. How do we do that?

Maybe the answer lies in the tagline. When Westcliffe has promotional ads posted inside the cars of London’s Underground, our tagline should capture our ethos. I’m open to suggestions. Off the top of my head, I’d submit, “Lay Down Your Cares and Woes – Take a Deep Breath.”

timeout2 chair



About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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6 Responses to Marketing Tourism

  1. Pari says:

    The Chamber already has a tagline – “the road less traveled starts here” – to which I add, “so get on it and go somewhere else”.

  2. timeout2 says:

    Thank you for the correction, Pari. I missed the Chamber’s tagline – better than mine by a country mile. Tourism is a mixed bag. Tourism works in a healthy economy, but when the economy tanks, you are left with nothing. I would rather not carry all my eggs in one basket.

    • Pari says:

      Doris, my comment was meant more as a joke. It seems to me that the Chamber not only misquoted Frost but also got the quote backwards if their intention was to show that Westcliffe and the Valley are a wonderful place to slow down and “take a deep breath”. A better way to use the quote would be to say that the “road less traveled ends here”.
      As for your column – spot on!

      • timeout2 says:

        Yes, “ends here.” We are somewhat at a dead-end, and that is a problem. The Chamber really needs to target day-trippers. I have some ideas, but to have ideas and not throw your weight behind the wheel is not fair play. “If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” My focus and energy does not lend itself for throwing myself at a Board and under the wheel.

  3. Doris, I only got to read your blog and comments now. Quoting you: “If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” I don’t agree with you. I think there are thinkers and doers and these are not necessarily combined in one person. It could well be that a doer is inspired by a thinker to perform the task. So, just go on making suggestions. Helga

    • timeout2 says:

      I take your point, Helga. Thinking of you and what you wrote, I’m thinking of the poet Emily Dickinson and her poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” The artist in you always comes at a topic from another angle.

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