State lawmakers have been eying the tourism industry for the past several years to help buoy Colorado amid a protracted economic slump, and the 2011 legislative session was no exception. Two measures were signed into law this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper, one in March and the other just this month, giving a boost to regional tourism projects.
House Bill 1311, sponsored by Reps. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, and Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, increases the number of potential regional tourism projects that the Economic Development Commission may approve in the next few years. The projects could include anything from museums to resort hotels, from amusement parks to even a major sports arena.
Development projects that are approved by the commission become eligible to participate in tax arrangements that divert a portion of taxes collected, within a prescribed area, toward repayment of costs incurred in bringing the project to fruition.
Kerr and Swerdfeger both say that HB 1311 will offer Coloradans more opportunities for economic growth. Tourists bring money when they visit, says Swerdfeger, and the places they visit are staffed by locals.
“State tourism is not only a great way to infuse Colorado’s economy with more revenue, but it also creates more jobs,” said Swerdfeger. “By allowing more regional tourism project applications to be approved, our state creates more ways to bring tourists to Colorado.”
Kerr says looking at ways to expand tourism is particularly wise in its potential for a cross-pollination of revenue sources.
“Regional tourism provides huge potential for economic growth here in Colorado,” said Kerr. “Smart, targeted legislation like this will help bring more visitors to Colorado and expand our tourism sector, and it has the potential to create jobs across the state.”
Meanwhile, House Bill 1006, sponsored by Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, which went into effect in March upon the governor’s signature, changes the composition of local boards when there are more than two counties involved in a regional tourism project, allowing for more county representation.
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