The Colorado Tourism Office will be providing tourism consulting services to the Tracks Across Borders Scenic and Historic Byway commission.
It will provide an estimated $10,000 worth of consulting services from a tourism expert.
TABB is a 126-mile byway from Chama, New Mexico to Durango, through Archuleta, La Plata and Rio Arriba (New Mexico) counties. It is one of 26 byways in Colorado, officially designated by the respective State Transportation Departments.
Since the byway is relatively new, being designated in 2015, the TABB commission intends to use the grant to develop a robust marketing plan which will include outreach to organizations and tourism-related businesses along and near the byway.
“We decided to go for this grant, in an attempt to try to get people regionally and locally to be more aware of our byway,” said TABB commission Executive Director John Porco.
The TABB commission is working with various entities like Visit Durango and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, as well as the Durango & Sliverton Narrow Gauge and Cumbres & Toltec Scenic railroads.
The byway also includes Dulce, New Mexico and Arboles, Allison, Tiffany, Ignacio, and Oxford, along with ghost towns like Juanita and Pagosa Junction in Colorado.
In addition to Chimney Rock, other highlights of the byway are the Jicarilla Apache Cultural Center in Dulce and Navajo State Park, plus the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum in Ignacio.
The commission not only sought out the grant for notoriety purposes, but also to boost the tourism economy in smaller communities along the Colorado-New Mexico border.
The various communities that make up the route total a population of roughly 4,000 people, excluding Durango and Chama.
“It's very hard to measure that because, you know, how do you know if somebody who drives the route is driving there because they live there or if they're taking the byway? But we've had some interest from giving some tours,” Porco said. “We are aware that there are groups, particularly railroad related groups at this point, that have a strong interest in the byway because it does follow the route of the old Rio Grande railroad that went between Durango and Chama.”
Porco hopes that highlighting the byway more will also mean better job creation for the areas along the path.
“We hope that if there is additional tourism traffic in the area of the byway, that it could, probably over the long run, have some impact on employment,” he said.