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Community Weighs In On Tourism Strategic Plan

on September 12, 2017 - 1:03pm

Los Alamos County Planning Assistant Anita Barela and her daughter, Leia Roach, take part in the public meeting regarding the County's tourism strategic plan Sept. 6 at UNM-LA. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com 

 

By KIRSTEN LASKEY 

Los Alamos Daily Post 

kirsten@ladailypost.com

 

Tourism is in fact a growing industry in Los Alamos, a packed house learned Sept. 6 in the UNM-LA Student Center.

 

Members of the community crowded into the room to participate in a meeting hosted by Los Alamos County, along with its contractor, Design Workshop, Inc. The meeting’s purpose was to gather input on the Tourism Strategic Plan under development.

 

Feedback from that meeting will help shape the Tourism Strategic Plan that Design Workshop, Inc. is working on with the community, particularly the Tourism Work Group, which is made up of 20 individuals appointed by the Los Alamos County Council.

Design Workshop President Becky Zimmermann. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

 

During the meeting, Design Workshop President Becky Zimmermann said the numbers show visitors do come to the townsite. She reported that in 2016, tourism-related spending increased by $7.82 million.

 

“Tourism is happening,” Zimmermann said. “People are coming to Los Alamos.”

 

She also noted that in 2016, Bandelier National National Monument saw 198,478 visitors, the Bradbury Science Museum welcomed more than 80,000 visitors and the Los Alamos History Museum had more than 51,000 visitors.

 

Additionally, lodger’s tax revenue grew last year.

 

“All these trends are positive,” Zimmermann said. “You have a lot of great things but you’re not leveraging as much as you could.”

 

The public’s help is needed to determine the best strategy to enhance tourism in Los Alamos. As result, key pads were handed out to participants and a series of questions were asked. Participants entered their responses into the key pads and the results would immediately be broadcast on a screen.

 

Specifically, participants were asked to respond to a number of scenarios the strategic plan could pursue:

  • Not making any changes;
  • Upgrading tourism services;
  • Enhancing the community for both residents and visitors; and
  • Combining upgrading tourism services with enhancing the community for residents and visitors.

Participants at the meeting showed the most support for the final option.

 

Zimmermann said providing the means to collect information and immediately share it is an effective tool.

 

“We love this for our public engagement because it gives everyone a voice,” she said.

 

Zimmerman said another public meeting will be scheduled in October and plan should be presented to Council in November before hopefully being adopted by the end of year.

 

Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

 

After the meeting, Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary, who provided opening remarks, said she was pleased with its turnout and participation.

 

“There was fabulous public participation (and) really great attendance,” she said, adding the public told the County what it would like to see for economic development, which was what the meeting was all about.

 

The County has undertaken a major effort to bolster its tourism industry. While updating its comprehensive plan, the Los Alamos County Council made tourism one of its top priorities. It is also a major priority for the community. In the 2016 comprehensive plan survey, 85 percent of its respondents said they supported increasing  tourism as driver for economic development.

 

As a result, the County has hired multiple contractors to make Los Alamos a tourist destination. One of those contractors is Design Workshop, Inc., a company in Denver that provides landscape architecture, planning, urban design and strategic services.

 

Anyone unable to attend the Sept. 6 meetingcan take an online survey. This survey also contains the presentations from the meeting. To take the survey online or learn more about the Tourism Strategic Plan project, visit losalamostourismplan.com.


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