ALAMOSA — Reflecting more hotels and the associated revenue from guests staying in them, the Alamosa County Marketing District’s fund balance is increasing.
The marketing district board conservatively increased its budget during its monthly meeting on Thursday but plans to save some of its surplus in reserves in case future years are not as healthy. The 2018 budget is $750,000, which reflects combined revenues from the marketing district and lodging tax income. The budget has been about $600,000
Among other budget items, the marketing board provides assistance to events throughout the community and the calendar year that boost tourism. For example, the marketing district is assisting Alamosa’s newest event, Octobrufest, which is planned for September 30.
With a healthier fund balance, the marketing board hopes to provide more funds for these types of events.
“What we are seeing last year to this year, these balances continue to increase pretty significantly,” board member Jeff Owsley said. For example, about $485,000 was projected for marketing district tax revenues this year, and it appears the actual revenues will be about $600,000, he said. Lodging tax revenues add about $250,000 to that.
Owsley said it would be very conservative to say the marketing district could expect $500,000 income, plus $250,000 for the lodging tax.
“It fluctuates, there’s some variables in it, but it’s still a positive sign,” added Alamosa Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jamie Greeman.
Marketing board member Danielle VanVeghten said the board had kept the budget the same because the board wanted to be prepared for years when something catastrophic might occur, such as a wildfire that might affect tourism. She added that the budget numbers were in line with past year’s budgets as well.
Owsley said Alamosa has more hotels now, however, and they are generating more money for the district.
Marketing board member Fred Bunch said the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve has seen record numbers in recent years, but it is difficult to determine if this is the new norm or not. He said something could happen like a flood or fire, and tourism could be significantly affected.
Marketing Board President Rob Oringdulph said that while the board should be conservative and make sure there is money to cover expenses such as the welcome center, the district is not fulfilling its mission of promoting tourism by having money just sitting in the bank.
“We have excess money particularly in 2016 and excess in 2017. I think we ought to be looking at using that money in a productive way,” he said. “My feeling is the money’s there, so we need to use that money to increase tourism.”
Board Vice President Cathy Simpson added, “I hate to see it sitting there not being used as intended, but I don’t want to get careless.”
The board settled on $750,000 as a good figure for the 2018 budget.