Promoting Pagosa around the world

At the end of 2008, Dianne Calderon, with the Town Tourism Committee, and John Cohen, with the Durango Area Tourism Office, applied for a grant the state of Colorado was offering to communities that wanted to partner to attend one of the largest international travel and tour operator forums — ITB, in Berlin, Germany, March 10-15.

The communities are required to market their towns together and prove that, as a partnership, their efforts attempt to increase tourism, especially tour operator packages to the area. It was exciting to find out that Durango and Pagosa Springs received the grant.

However, with Dianne now gone from the committee, and the new TTC position reset to part-time, the job of traveling to Germany has fallen on me.

I am honored to represent Pagosa and to work with Mr. Cohen in Durango to create a new marketing piece, highlighting both communities and the southwest region, which has just rolled out a new Southwest Brewery Tour — including breweries in Pagosa, Cortez, Paonia, and Gunnison.

I also recently returned from Albuquerque where the Go West Summit for travel agencies and tour operators focused on the western and southwestern regions of the United States. The huge interest in the Southwest was encouraging. All our regional partners are very excited about the interest in our area, nationally and internationally. We are working together to get more exposure for this area. International visitors are fascinated by the Native American culture, the “western” lifestyle, and our wide open spaces — and Pagosa has them all. Also in Pagosa’s favor, considering the international market, are our hot springs facilities. With the dollar at its present exchange rate, America is popular with European travelers and we plan to capitalize on this.

While not a quick fix for increasing tourism in Pagosa, we must gain more exposure with travel companies and demonstrate why they should stop and stay in Pagosa, not just pass through or come to the Visitor Center to utilize the restrooms.

The entire Southwest region is trying to capitalize on the international market, and create more exposure to all we have to offer. While Cortez has Mesa Verde and Durango has the train, Pagosa needs to market our various hot springs facilities and create a reason to stop and stay here. I hope to continue to create this interest and market the community that I love and am proud to represent.

Mud season reprieves

Mud season is definitely upon us; however, with the season, we always look forward to dry land and spring in Pagosa. Following are some activities to get you ready for warmer weather.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade. On Tuesday, March 17, the green will take to Pagosa Street for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We must have 25 floats registered in order to hold the parade, and we are well on our way in acquiring this number. This parade is fun, green and everyone can celebrate a little bit of the Irish. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. at 6th Street.

Entry forms are available at the Chamber and must be turned into the Chamber by Wednesday, March 11. The cost to enter is $3.17 and cash prizes will be awarded for the greenest, best overall, and most bizarre floats. Stop by to pick up your entry form, or we can fax one to you. Contact Kimberley at 264-2360.

Friday fish fry. The Knights of Columbus are hosting their annual Lenten season Fish Fry every Friday until April 3. The feasts begin at 5 p.m. and continue to 7. You can dine in, or take out a full meal of fried catfish, homemade french fries, coleslaw, hush puppies and a dessert. The cost is $9.50 for adults and children under 12 are $5. Head over to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Hall on Lewis Street for this delicious food, every Friday.

Rotary Club Casino Night. In line with celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a little early, join the Rotary Club as they present the “Luck of the Irish Casino Royale” on Saturday, March 14. Tickets are $30 per person and the festivities include gambling tables such as blackjack, poker and craps, along with a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction. Tickets are available at the Chamber, Moonlight Books, Higher Grounds, and from any Rotarian. Join the fun beginning at 7 p.m. knowing you will be contributing to projects that support various efforts in this community, such as scholarship funds and other Rotary community service projects. Gold sponsors of this event are Citizens Bank and LaPlata Electric, with silver sponsor Scott Strategic Investments. The festivities will be held at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

Horseback Riding in the Mountains. Listen as Phyllis Wheaton, visitor information specialist with the Pagosa Ranger District, talks about the areas in Pagosa Country best suited for horses, horse trailer-friendly trailheads, ecological damage done by horses and more. The talk takes place Wednesday, March 18, at Higher Grounds Coffee, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Horseback Riders for a Wild San Juan Mountains, which focuses on the management of public lands around Pagosa Springs, is the sponsor of this event. For more information, call 731-3471.

Business Bites for March. Another St. Patrick’s Day special will take place March 17. The Chamber’s monthly Business Bites luncheon will be held at Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and this month’s featured speaker is Kurt Raymond, with Raymond Rent A Nerd. He will inform you about some very important subjects: commercial protection services, and protecting and backing up your company’s information. He will cover the Seven Biggest Mistakes to Avoid such as: 1. Thinking that your virus protection software will protect you from all threats; 2. Thinking that your e-mail communications are private; 3. Not investing in training for you and your employees; 4. Not buying an extended warranty for notebook computers; 5. Not paying close attention to your cost per printed page; 6. Not making sure that all of your important electronic equipment has robust power protection; and the biggest mistake — Believing that all of your important data is being continually backed up and is safe and secure.

Ask any business owner who has had their system crash how important the information in this seminar might be for you. An hour of your time, being proactive, could save you weeks of headaches being reactive to a business disaster.

Of course, walk-ins are always welcome at Business Bites luncheons, but we would appreciate a call reserving a space so we can notify the restaurant of a head count. Cost of the lunch is $12 for Chamber members and $15 for nonmembers. For the admission price, you receive a great lunch with a choice of three entrees, a beverage, gratuity and, of course, mounds of information. The cost of this luncheon could save you hundreds in emergency computer services. The luncheon begins at noon and will last about an hour. Call 264-2360 to reserve your space.

In April, we will have Directory Plus with their new Buzztown.com Web site as the Business Bites topic. If you are in the “Red Book” from Directory Plus, then you are automatically a part of Buzztown.com. But, do you know the other services that this viral method of advertising and marketing provides for you? Do you know that people can actually go online and write a commentary about your business and rate you?

Business Bites is offered to keep Chamber members current on technology, marketing, new laws, community information and much more. Mark the third Tuesday of each month on your calendar and attend these informational seminars. Meet other Chamber members, get a great lunch and acquire some new business savvy. If you walk away with one new piece of information, the lunch has paid your business back in spades!

Membership news

We have two new members to welcome this week.

First off, we have Alpine Portable Toilets and Septic joining the Chamber. Alpine provides portable toilet rentals for construction sites and outdoor special events. They provide clean, maintained units for one day or long term. They also pump septic systems. For service, or to obtain pricing, call Tawnie Lucero at 264-2040.

Also joining this week are Dianne and Michael Killen of High Horse Video Productions. High Horse Video is a full service company offering development, production, taping and editing services for documentaries, corporate videos and Broadcast television products. They have up to three camera packages in HD with full audio and lighting. They also offer their clients high quality video service to be displayed on the Internet. Their credits include productions for CBS, Disney, NBC, PBS and much more. Visit their web site at www.highhorsevideo.com for more information about their production and video company or contact them at 903-3797.

Our renewals this week include: the Alpen Haus Ski Center; Elk Meadows River Resort; Mike Branch, CPA; Foxfire Construction with David Brackhahn; United Country Mountain Properties; Barb’s Wellness club (www.barbswellnessclub.com); Ionmicrowater (www.ionmicrowater.com); and the Pagosa Health and Wellness Network.

Our non-profit renewals this week include the Pagosa Baptist Church; Habitat for Humanity; and the Pagosa Area Trails Council.

The big week for spring break is approaching, with Texas and Oklahoma schools off on the same week, March 16- 22. We look forward to a busy time in Pagosa Springs and we’ll be prepared for the influx of visitors.