Colorado lawmakers are looking to tighten rules around outdoor activities.
That could lead to more tourists, businesses, and tourists, but it could also hurt local economies.
The state’s tourism bureau says it wants to see fewer restrictions on outdoor activities, including camping and picnics, so that local businesses can grow.
“We are looking at relaxing our rules on outdoor recreation, such as camping, and allowing for outdoor picnicks and outings in places that are popular,” said Chris Daugherty, the bureau’s director of recreation and outdoor recreation.
Daugbery says the bureau is looking to relax rules in areas like ski areas, where recreational access can be difficult.
“That could have a significant impact on tourism, in our experience,” he said.
In 2016, the state enacted new restrictions on picnicking and camping in ski areas.
Dougherty says the new regulations are a response to complaints from people who were hurt by previous restrictions.
“They were able to walk in and not feel any harm,” Daugyres said.
“It’s a little bit of a wake-up call to us to try and get a more balanced approach.”
Colorado is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, and recreational activity in the state has grown rapidly.
The tourism bureau predicts that recreational visitors to the state will grow from $14.9 billion in 2020 to $21.1 billion in 2021.
However, Daugiesh says it could take years before the state is able to accommodate all the visitors expected in 2021 and beyond.
“The challenges we have in 2021 are really going to be about making sure that the economy is able and willing to absorb all the new tourists that we have,” he explained.
Davenport has proposed a bill to change the state’s outdoor recreation regulations.
Daughherty says this legislation would allow ski areas to expand beyond ski lifts, where outdoor recreation has been banned since 2016.
“So you can see, we have a number of ski resorts, a lot of them in the mountains,” he told The Verge.
“And so we have these new lifts coming in and they’re going to do their business, and the ski lifts are going to remain in the ground.
So you have all these new recreational areas that are coming up that we can use to add more facilities.”
Davenports bill, SB 1514, would also allow ski resorts to open new recreational trails.
Droughs said he hopes to have a draft of the bill ready to introduce in the coming months.
He said he is confident that the bill will pass in committee.
“There’s been some talk in the last couple of weeks about whether we can move forward on this, but we’re confident that we will,” he continued.
“This is something that we are all very supportive of.
And I think we have enough votes in this house to get this done.”
Daugriesh said that the new outdoor recreation rules would also help businesses in the Colorado Valley.
“These changes in outdoor recreation are going up in price, and we’re seeing that,” he noted.
“Our economy is going to suffer.
Our tourism industry is going down.”
Colorado’s tourism economy is expected to grow from around $20 billion in 2016 to $25 billion in 2022.
In 2019, the city of Denver reported a net loss of $2.5 million in operating income, according to the Denver Post.
The city is considering a proposal to cut the city’s sales tax from 5.5 percent to 3.75 percent, which could help ease the blow.
However it could hurt tourism and the economy in the city, which depends on the sale of goods and services from outside the state.
The proposed tax increase is scheduled to take effect in 2021, according the Denver Business Journal.