Eliza Voss, vice president of destination marketing for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, talks about community resiliency and responsible tourism.
Aspen in the summer
Aspen is a unique destination because not only does it draw tourists from around the world, but it’s a hotbed for culture, art, wellness and entrepreneurship. How do you balance the needs of both residents and visitors?
As a mature destination, our residents are aware that they have excellent benefits as a result of tourism. However, given the externalities of the global pandemic and the pressures that brought to our community, we are definitely at a point where the benefits brought by tourism do not allow for unlimited growth. Ultimately, if you have a sustainable place to live, it’s going to be a place where people want to visit, so it’s very important to make decisions with residents at the forefront as everything trickles down from there. Also, a vital element of the planning is to continue to support the arts and culture institutions that contribute to Aspen’s appeal for both residents and visitors alike.
How important is promoting sustainability and resiliency as you market the destination?
Sustainability, resiliency, but perhaps even more importantly, regenerative tourism, is crucial in marketing the destination. Pivoting from acquisition marketing to really educational-style marketing is important in inviting new residents and visitors into the fold, making sure everyone understands the ethos and community values that made Aspen the desirable place to visit in the first place. We must protect the natural assets that we have so that they are here for many generations to come. The means everything from sponsoring Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers give-back days, relaunching the Aspen Pledge, but also advocating for the elimination of single-use plastics or more widespread adoption of composting in our area. We are beginning the journey of getting Aspen certified with the Global Sustainability Tourism Council criteria so we can better understand how we can be a leader in this space.
Eliza Voss, vice president of destination marketing for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association
The Aspen Chamber Resort Association recently released a new destination management plan. Why is this an important step for the community?
This is an important step to protect the quality of life for our residents, while also preserving the very reason people enjoy coming to Aspen. It involved an extensive outreach process, and ultimately those listening sessions informed the recommendations of the plan. So really the plan belongs to the community and represents the pain points that we are feeling and makes mindful strategic recommendations, which will take involvement from Aspen Chamber as well as government, nonprofit and business partners to make meaningful changes to guide the direction of our destination.
Any buzzy new openings you anticipate this fall?
We’re looking forward to the opening of Las Montañas, an elevated Mexican restaurant from the owners of Clark’s Oyster Bar in Aspen. PARC Aspen just opened in the former L’Hostaria space. They will have a modern locals’ bar and bar menu, a contemporary fine dining room and an exclusive wine and chef-paired private dining experience featuring seasonal, farm-to-table fare with a European flair.
What has the Aspen Chamber learned from this extensive planning experience?
It’s important to note that the challenges Aspen is facing as a result of visitor pressure, mountain migration and macro forces at play are not unique. Many remote and rural destinations that had similar pressures prior to the pandemic have found these challenges exacerbated. This means there is real opportunity to learn from other destinations as well as become a leader in this space as we all navigate toward a more sustainable future
Photography by: PHOTO BY C2 PHOTOGRAPHY; PHOTO BY JEREMY SWANSON