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Strap on your seat belts, stock up on provisions — it’s on the way.
Not only will nothing stop it, nothing should. Given relatively flat sales tax revenues of late, Pagosans should encourage all the spring break traffic possible.
And, once visitors are here, we should be as welcoming and accommodating as we can.
There will be sufficient snow in the high country to lure visitors here for skiing and other outdoor, winter activities. As of the end of last week, Wolf Creek Ski Area was reporting 87 inches at the summit with 77 inches midway. The ski area is expert in dealing with large holiday crowds and the snow remains the best in the region.
Not that a few more inches would hurt, at the Divide and down here in Pagosa. Total water content and precipitation levels at the top of Wolf Creek Pass hovered just short of 80 percent last week and, with summer and the impending fire season ahead, the closer we get to 100 percent of average the better.
But, new snow or no, our visitors can avail themselves of fine conditions on the slopes.
Spring break dates in Colorado and nearby states that traditionally provide much of our spring break traffic begin with some New Mexico districts (including Albuquerque) that are out as of tomorrow, March 8. A number of Texas school districts take a break beginning this weekend, as do quite a few colleges and universities.
The flow of visitors should increase March 16-23. Many Oklahoma public school districts are on break, along with a growing number of institutions of higher learning and many Texas public school districts.
Quite a few public school districts in Colorado take the break March 25-29 and, as the season wanes, other New Mexico students will get time out of the classrooms in early April. Pagosa students will be out of class the second week of April.
With a steady stream of visitors during the next few weeks, Pagosans should remember that, despite some inconveniences (which occur at any peak season) our visitors are some of our most valuable contributors to the character and quality of life in Pagosa Country.
Tourism is our major industry: there is no other market element here now, or on the horizon, that will replace tourism as the major factor in the Pagosa Country economy.
Tourists come to Pagosa Country to enjoy a beautiful, friendly place in the high country. They spend their money here — on lodging, at the grocery store, at restaurants, on entertainment. That money is vital for local businesses, and tax revenues provide local town and county government with critical funds.
While our visitors enjoy Pagosa Country, those of us who live and do business here must tend our side of the equation. Put simply: courtesy and a reasonable response to the needs of visitors is the way we ensure their return and positive reports to others who might, someday, choose this place as a destination.
True, lines at the grocery store will be longer, in particular on the weekends. A reservation could be a bit harder to get at a local restaurant. And, yes, now and then a visitor will be less than polite. We need to remember, though, that the vast majority of the folks who arrive here during this tourist season or others, come with great attitudes and friendly demeanors, anticipating a memorable time. Business owners and their employees need to hone customer service skills and apply them across the board. And we other denizens of this destination should show that we appreciate our visitors’ contributions, wishing them a wonderful vacation, a safe trip home and a return trip to Pagosa Country in the future.