TELLURIDE – How much would it help the Telluride area to extend the operating hours of the Telluride-to-Mountain Village gondola for an additional three weeks in the autumn and possibly an additional week in the spring? Or even for just two weeks in the autumn?
Jonathan Greenspan, president of the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, and Michael Martelon, CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board, told the Telluride Town Council Tuesday that combined with an energized marketing effort targeting the same additional weeks that the gondola would remain open, there is potential to stimulate the shoulder season economy significantly.
“It’s more than the funding,” Martelon told council, emphasizing that there are cultural and marketing components to tackle, as well.
Along with a need for additional funding from TMVOA and the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village ($25,000 from each entity to pay for three weeks), local businesses would have to agree to stay open the additional weeks, Martelon said. That is the cultural part, since locals are accustomed to traveling during shoulder seasons.
Marketing, if a plan is approved, would target demographics that a recent study conducted for the tourism board identified as being most receptive to visiting Telluride during the shoulder seasons. If it worked, Martelon added, and using very conservative assumptions, additional visitation would generate far more in additional sales taxes to the towns than they spent on the effort to attract them.
Following the presentation, councilmember Chris Myers suggested that the $25,000 in annual funding from the Town of Telluride to go toward gondola operations was a “no brainer.”
In fact, council had already anticipated allocating $17,500 to that item.
But the request for still more came just as council was prepared to adopt what is already a very tight town budget for next year, and so members of council expressed some doubts that the effort would succeed.
One idea that tantalized Mayor Stu Fraser is the possibility of a robust Oktoberfest that could become a major annual event. Greenspan agreed but noted that it takes a few years to build a festival or event.
Council agreed to find the additional funding in its budget for next year, provided that the other two entities – Mountain Village and TMVOA – match it.