Last summer, more than 300 people gathered in the desert outside of Naturita in southwestern Colorado for the Planet V Festival, a weekend of music, dance, art and community.
“It actually started as an event during COVID…it was called Burning Bang,” said Natalie Binder, who runs Camp V, the site of the abandoned mining town where the rally took place. Told.
The first event is named after an annual festival in the Nevada desert. “When Burning Man was cancelled, a friend of ours approached us and said, ‘Are we going to have a little get-together so we can still see each other?'”
Last year’s event was more organized and much more massive than the semi-natural iterations that occurred early in the pandemic. And this year, Binder hopes to attract more of his 500.
A refund from the state made all of this possible. Binder was able to recoup about $5,000 of last year’s festival’s total operating costs of $55,000, and hopes to use this money again this year. The assistance is especially beneficial for events held in remote areas like Naturita in Montrose County, she said.
“It’s easier to go to places like Telluride,” Binder said. “It’s just more of the following. There’s more population, there’s more affluence…. There are many challenges in organizing an event in a rural community, especially a community that’s really unknown. .
Colorado’s Tourism Industry Still Needs Help, Especially Group Travel
Pandemic aid is all but a thing of the past, but Colorado still has one industry that is getting a boost. That’s the state travel industry. To entice event planners to spend money here, Colorado offers cash rebates that cover up to 10% of the eligible hard costs for events that attract large groups. As of November 30, over $4 million in rebates have been approved.
“At this point, we have exhausted about half of the funds allocated for cash rebates.” Said Elizabeth Oria, director of grants and fundraising for the Colorado Department of Economic Development, said: “It’s been 18 months since the program ended, and she has 18 months left.”
This means that eligible events will need to raise some funding by the middle of next year, which will be able to cover food, event space, A/V equipment, entertainment, and more. Funding was taken from the state general fund. Anything not spent will probably go back to it unless state legislators decide to do something else with the money, O’Rear said.
The program covers everything from conferences, business meetings and trade fairs to festivals, concerts and sporting events. Also applies to weddings. The top three categories make up the bulk of the funding. Meetings account for more than half of the funds approved to date (over $2 million), followed by business meetings at approximately $748,000 in rebates and weddings at $281,000.
According to O’Rear, the requirements and guidelines are the same for all different types of events.
“[It’s’] An event that shows economic impact,” she said. A certain number of eligible (hotel) nights are required. ”
Officials launched the state’s program after COVID-19 hit Colorado’s travel industry hard when it first shut down everything. is.
However, recovery is uneven. Group trips, in particular, take a long time to come back. There are several reasons for the delay.
These types of events need to be planned and paid for well in advance and risk being canceled once COVID cases start to rise. Moreover, much of group travel revolves around business travel, which bounces back much slower than leisure travel.
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O’Rear says the pace of rebate applications tracks very closely what’s happening in the COVID-19 caseload. and shows how quickly things can change.
“We had quite a few applications in the first six months,” says O’Rear. “Since then, we’ve seen an increase in cases and a decline in applications. This is speculated that the organization that might be hosting the event was now a little more cautious and was waiting to see what would happen or You can guess.”
Judging by the volume of recent bookings, people are feeling confident about booking events even though the pandemic is still here. It may indicate that
“Especially this summer, we…for the fourth month in a row, had more applications and more funding approved than the previous month. So we saw a real uptick.,said Oria.
Just this month, a rebate was approved for the Curling National Championship next month at the Denver Coliseum.
An influx of applications could mean that businesses don’t need such incentives for much longer. But the Planet V Festival binders stress that anything can go a long way toward reviving and sustaining Colorado’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
“If you can bring 3 to 500 people into an area with only 500 people, each person is spending money on gas, supplies and food. “I’m sorry,” says Binder. “On the scale of what’s happening in the rest of the state, it may not seem like much.”