COVID-19 Updates

9/4/2020

Welcome to fall and the elk rut. We are excited to let everyone know that we are working with the Town’s event team, the Chamber and our community partners to organize Elk Fest 2.0: The Virtual Edition that will include both physical on-site activities and virtual elements for the three to four weeks of the rut, mid-September through the first weeks of October. Check our Elk Fest event page for the most up-to-date information.

Our summer season was not as good as the previous year but we are seeing a fairly strong recovery that has been better than anticipated and stronger than most other Colorado destinations. We are continuing to implement a substantial marketing program designed to attract visitors and increase demand for the fall/winter season. Our Book Direct lodging reservation system is really taking off and going strong compared with where we were April through June and, in some months, even stronger than the previous year.

Our team is working hard to support our local businesses and improve our business environment as quickly as possible. Thank you to our staff and board who have done a lot of work to help design strong marketing programs and have helped to improve visitation to Estes Park.

We are all in this together as they say, and we will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to restore Estes Park visitation levels and support our community in a responsible and safe way.

 

8/12/2020

Now more than ever we need to support each other through these challenging times.  We are working with the Estes Valley Resiliency Collaborative to encourage each of us to practice patience, empathy and understanding as the summer season, and current events, create tense moments for visitors and locals alike. 

June was a tough month compared with previous years, with overall lodging revenues off about 35%.  July seems to be a better month and we will see how August and September end up; Visit Estes Park has been stepping up marketing efforts to increase demand during these rocky times.

Visitors are staying very interested in Estes Park as a destination, based upon our metrics.  From January through July website visitation is up 34%, PR is higher than 2019 levels, group leads are up over 2019 and website click throughs are way up.  Book Direct reservation referrals are considerably higher than 2019 levels.  However, we know that business for many of you is off and we are doing everything we can to increase demand to our destination. 

The Larimer County variance approved by the State of Colorado is still in place and looks to be secure, as long as we can keep our infection positivity rate low and hospitalization use close to 60%.  This is really important for our business owners and workforce as they need the income during the summer season to carry them through the winter. 

We will continue to market through the fall and winter to promote families with kids learning virtually to consider an educational trip, for remote workers to consider a stay in a beautiful place like Estes Park as a part of their work plans and to continue to promote the seasonal outdoor activities that people can enjoy any time of the year in our area.

Our team is working together to ensure our stakeholders get the marketing support needed to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and to continue to thrive and improve. 

Thank you for your continued support!  We are all in this together.

 
8/1/2020

We hope this brief message finds you in recovery and doing much better.  The summer season is upon us and we seem to be picking up more visitors and getting closer to normal demand than before.  That said, the coronavirus has really put a dent into our demand for the year and I know everyone has suffered.  The good news is that our Book Direct reservation system for lodging is now booking back at normal 2019 levels; an indicator that we may be able to pull out a decent summer. 

For our part, we have been marketing heavily to overnight drive travelers and the campaign seems to be doing well.  From January through July we are up over 34% in website visitation; PR is higher than 2019 levels, group leads are up over 2019 due to our team working hard on rescheduling bookings and click throughs on pages on the website are way up.  Visitors are staying very interested in Estes Park as a destination, based upon our website interest.

We are shifting our brochure distribution to an online solution, to provide value to stakeholders, while the visitor center is closed.  We understand the impact to local business, and it is realistic to believe that we will be down overall by the end of the year.  We just don’t know by how much.  We will do everything we can to help your business and our tourism industry sustain itself in a safe and responsible manner through the end of the year and beyond. 

We are continuing to distribute face masks, so if you need any please contact us at visitestespark@visitestespark.com and we will make sure you get some. Please let us know if you would like to sell them to your customers and we will sell them to you at cost: $2.50 each.  We recommend marking them up 100% and donating any proceeds to the Non-Profit Resource Center and they will make sure it goes to a local non-profit in Estes Park.

We are planning to offer a new dashboard of information on our transparency page that will provide you with real time data about how we are doing as a destination!

Stay strong, we are all in this together.

 
6/17/2020

The next phase in Colorado’s reopening, Protect Our Neighbors, is tentatively scheduled to be implemented at the beginning of July on a case-by-case basis. Counties will be evaluated individually to see if they qualify to move into Protect Our Neighbors, or must remain in Safer At Home. Determinations will be made based on a framework that evaluates factors related to transmission, treatment, testing and tracing. Read the details here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L_eMAzRNgezoHqdiHMizjvQkbKfOAoBt/view

The State of Colorado is inviting public comment on this framework via a survey, and the deadline to comment is tomorrow, June 18. Read the draft framework then take the survey here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/protect-our-neighbors-feedback.

Protect Our Neighbors means “expanded reopening, around 50% without caps, as local outbreaks are managed by strong local systems.” Gatherings could be allowed at up to 50% of pre-virus capacity, ensuring 6-feet between groups, with a maximum of 500 people present at any given time. Make sure your voice is heard – take the survey!

Also, here are links for draft guidance regarding group venues. You can submit feedback for each category as late as 6pm today, Wednesday June 17.

 Town of Estes Park’s new program allows businesses to expand into public outdoor spaces by permit

The town of Estes Park is opening up permits to extend businesses onto public right of ways like sidewalks and parks or parking lots adjacent to businesses. Find more information here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16W_52yp_CAow8W14xwWgLenhnyrVKajT/view
 

Great News for Rocky Mountain National Park

Congratulations to our Rocky Mountain National Park as the U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act today, a bipartisan bill that prioritizes the protection and preservation of our natural parks and public lands. Notably, the legislation secures much needed funds to help address the deferred maintenance backlog facing the National Park Service—a high priority for U.S. Travel.

"This is a pivotal time to invest in our national parks, particularly as we work to recover our economy. Funding provided by the Great American Outdoors Act will support an estimated 100,000 jobs, $6.5 billion in labor income and $17.5 billion in economic output per year, as well as contribute $9.6 billion to U.S. GDP."  - US Travel Association
 

Face Masks

If you need face masks please email us as we have ordered an additional thousand masks and they should be here by next week.  
 
We are working to ensure that the 4th of July weekend is a winner for our community, you will see new banners going up soon next to the parking structure, and at the 34/36 highway intersection to celebrate together and welcome visitors to our town.
 
Stay strong and kind and let's keep moving in a positive direction!

 
5/26/2020

With Saturday’s news of Larimer County’s variance request having been partially approved, two big wins for Estes Park tourism include dine-in service at restaurants allowed to resume immediately and short-term vacation rentals allowed to return to the marketplace beginning June 1st. 
 
Find out what the variance means for your business by visiting larimer.org/variance, where you will find information by industry. Here is a quick outline of how the variance will affect Estes Park businesses. Please visit larimer.org/variance for complete information.

  • Restaurants:
    • Larimer County restaurants are open for limited in person service with restrictions.
    • No restaurant may operate dine-in service until they can meet and maintain all the applicable requirements in the re-opening checklist, found here.
    • No reopening inspections are required prior to a restaurant reopening provided they meet and maintain all requirements in this checklist.
  • Vacation rentals
    • Short term rentals can open up for operation with a plan to monitor and follow the new guidance beginning June 1st. 
    • Groups larger than 10, except those all from the same household are not permitted
  • No contact recreational activities
    • Rental of outdoor recreational equipment is permitted if the equipment can be cleaned and sanitized between uses. Kayaks, boats, bicycles, and golf clubs may be rented if procedures are in place to clean and disinfect the item after every use. 
  • Movie theaters and bowling alleys
  • Personal Services
    • Salons, Spas, and other similar personal services must continue to operate with occupancy restrictions intended to provide adequate physical/social distancing. Those resuming operation with an occupancy above the limit of 10 (clients plus employees) must submit a plan to Larimer County Health Department to demonstrate compliance with the specific criteria outlined.  
  • Indoor malls
    • Retailers in indoor malls with a separate exterior entrance may operate per the requirements for non-critical retail in Appendix A, Section II. Retailers with no exterior entrance may open provided mall management submits a plan to Larimer County Health Department to address the specific criteria outlined in the variance plan.

We are still waiting for more details from Larimer County and can expect changes on a weekly basis.
 
We have updated our messaging and will continue to update it as we are able to honestly communicate that we are open for business and welcoming of visitors to Estes Park.
 
We will continue to work with Larimer County, the Town of Estes Park and our business partners including the Chamber, EALA, EDC and many businesses through the accelerated recovery task force to advocate for relief for businesses. This includes the recent variance request submitted by the County. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact me at 970-588-0500 ext. 1231.
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
 
The Park announced specifics on its plan to implement a phased reopening starting tomorrow:

  • Visitor centers will remain closed
  • Wild Basin area will remain closed
  • Trail Ridge Road will be open to Rainbow Curve
  • Fall River Road will not be open to motorized vehicles during this phase, but will open to bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Park managers are seeking approval to implement a timed entry system
  • Park staff will evaluate the level of visitation, crowding and congestion, and will meter access based on the level of visitation.

The full press release can be read here: www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/conditions.htm - covid19
 
New functionality for your listings
 
We’ve added functionality to listings on visitestespark.com to allow you to communicate to guests how your business is currently functioning. Listings now have a “Special Business Operations” field in which you can add special instructions, assurances of safety, etc. There is also a new amenity category called “Business Continuity” allowing guests to sort by business offerings. You can add and edit these new options in OLIVE or by emailing Claire Molle
 
Claim Your Masks
 
We still have masks available for business owners and their employees. Please respond to this email with how many masks you would like and where we can make a no-contact drop. Please note that these masks are intended for you and your employees, not for guests. Masks for guests may be purchased by ordering via this email at a cost of $2.50 per mask.

 
4/24/2020

New guidelines have just been released from the State Governors office and Larimer County regarding the reopening of some businesses, including lodging properties, beginning April 27 in accordance with the Governor’s Safer-at-Home phase. Here is a list of dates and information that is important to reopening Estes Park businesses. The Safer-at-Home phase will be followed by additional updates and transitions toward a more normal mode of doing business in the future. 

The National Park and other entities around town are working hard to determine how and when they will safely reopen. Check the social media of each entity for updates.

We have been working with the Town’s Accelerated Recovery Task Force to make recommendations and provide support for our local businesses to ensure that you have everything you need to start back up.  The Task Force asked for your input through a recent survey regarding ideas to reduce the spread of Covid-19 by implementing effective practices in your business.  The Task Force has reviewed the results and incorporated many of your ideas into its 90-Day Business Recovery Plan, which will be submitted to the Town for consideration as it continues to work on reopening Estes Park.  We will be sharing this with you soon.

Visit Estes Park will be offering our stakeholders free face masks in about a week, keep an eye out on how to collect one for yourself and your staff!  Find safety posters for your places of business on our business recovery resource webpage.

Please be sure to utilize this checklist for businesses from Larimer County just out today. Stay strong, and we look forward to working with you to ensure we remain safe and healthy for our community as we begin to return to business.

 
3/31/2020

It's another week full of changes and information about the Covid-19 impacts in Estes Park, nationally and internationally. Visit Estes Park is working to develop a strong recovery plan to ensure we are ready to build our tourism market back up as we get through the Covid-19 crisis.

Our team is working with the community, local organizations, and the town to help with recovery planning, and there is help on the way. Find links for grant and loan information on the Estes Park EDC’s Covid-19 Business Resource Center page. We will continue to be diligent to keep you updated and aware of any changes in opportunities to support your business. For example, here is a good link from the US Travel Association to the most current tourism business loans and grants through the CARES act relief fund.

We have created a Visit Estes Park virtual campaign designed to build interest in the market, to maintain brand awareness and to improve future visitation to Estes Park. We have halted all other marketing efforts so we will have plenty of budget available for marketing when the time is right. You can see a sample of the campaign here.

We will remain strong, and together we will get through this challenging time. If you have any suggestions, questions or input please feel free to contact me. We are all in this together and we are all proud to be a part of this great community.

3/24/2020

With the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park and short-term lodging over the weekend Estes Park has committed to doing its part to protect the community and to curb the spread of the virus locally and nationally. Currently, the State estimates that the peak of spread in Colorado will be sometime in April, so things are sure to continue to evolve until then.
 
In this time of uncertainty and hardship Visit Estes Park is working internally and externally to provide support and strategies for the recovery process for our community.
 
Internally, we have adjusted our marketing and communications strategies. Current marketing campaigns are on hold so that we have ample funds in place to market our area once the threat of the virus subsides and we get back to regular work. Our creative team is working on original content to keep Estes Park top-of-mind digitally and our communications team is monitoring travel media while planning for future opportunities to highlight Estes Park once travel resumes.
 
Externally, we are working alongside the Town, the EDC, the Chamber and EALA to create a recovery taskforce to support local businesses and employees. Of note:

  • The EDC is taking the lead on support for SBA loans. Please contact Adam Shake with questions about SBA loans or call The Colorado Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) new hotline at (303) 860-5881. Fifteen new counselors in Larimer County are being trained to assist your business to apply for loans or grants.
  • The Chamber is working with us to ensure we coordinate effective communications to local businesses and the community, while advocating and working with our government leaders to ensure support for our community.
  • The Town of Estes Park is considering how they can assist employees in the short term through help with rent, food and necessities. There will be an announcement at today’s Town Meeting to present their solution.
  • We are developing a Community Relations plan to emphasize the value of the visitor industry to our local residents and to provide ways to support each other to improve the quality of life in Estes Park and the region as we get through this hard time.

At the State and Federal level:

  • The State is talking about adding substantial funding to support local businesses. We are monitoring these developments and will let you know as they create a budget and a process for applying for these funds.
  • The Federal Government is also working on a plan to support local businesses and employees in a third bill that is being negotiated in Congress. As the details develop, we will make sure to communicate how to access these funds.
  • The State created the COVID-19 business resource center, in place to provide state and federal COVID-19 announcements, programs, and information relevant to Colorado businesses

Visit Estes Park will continue to support you and our community to ensure our visitor industry survives this crisis. We have a wonderful community and there is light ahead. We will work tirelessly to provide you with updates, guidance and leadership to help you get through this challenging time together.   

We do expect a substantial rebound, with a lot of pent up demand when we do recover. Please rest assured that Visit Estes Park will be ready to launch a significant marketing effort to help you boom as our recovery takes place.
 
Please be healthy, safe and have a positive outlook as we work together to get through these challenging times together.

 
3/17/2020

As we encourage travelers and residents to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and to take precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19 I have made the decision to encourage our staff members to practice social distancing according to the guidelines recommended by public health officials, and have directed them to follow town guidelines and avoid face to face meetings with anyone other than Visit Estes Park staff and not to travel for business outside of the Estes Valley area.
 
Given this, our staff will work remotely at their discretion so please contact us by phone or email during normal business hours for the time being. Find a list of contact information here. If you are not sure who to contact use our general email or phone number (970-586-0500) and your message will be forwarded to the appropriate person.
 
For resources and current Visit Estes Park messaging regarding COVID-19 please regularly visit our COVID-19 webpage, which is updated as needed and is now linked to on our homepage along with this message:
 
“While there are currently no restrictions on travel to or from Colorado and we'd sure like to see you here, Visit Estes Park is encouraging residents and visitors alike to take precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19. If considering travel to our community in the near future, please use these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to help you make your decision.”
 
We are keeping an internal list of business closures and altered operations, food and beverage companies offering carry-out and delivery services, and other important updates that will be used to create a list of what’s open and available, which will be added to our COVID-19 updates page tomorrow. Please send us your updates to be included.
 
Additionally, we are working with our local Chamber, EDC and government to ensure we support our stakeholders and community in a unified effort.
 
Thank you for your ongoing support of our community, we will work with you to get through this challenging time together. We continue to empathize with our stakeholders for the difficulties that our community and nation is going through. As always, we are here to support you during and after the pandemic, will continue to be transparent about our decision-making process and are following our local, state and national government agency recommendations for the health and safety of our community.

3/13/2020

We are sure you are very concerned about the COVID-19 news and the impacts this may have on your business and we deeply sympathize with every one of our stakeholders in Estes Park.  Even if Estes Park does not see any cases, we have already seen and anticipate that business will be considerably impacted.  So, what can we do to help mitigate these negative impacts?  We are working with Town, Health and Business officials to keep updated on the most recent directives which seem to be changing by the hour.  This includes updates from State and National officials and travel organizations.  

We have launched a new COVID-19 page on our website under “Plan” to keep travelers and local businesses up to date, so they can plan their trip to Estes Park with actual facts from our State and National travel organizations. You can check it out here: https://www.visitestespark.com/covid-19/.

We recommend tracking any lost business and working with the Estes Park EDC for SBA loans or other future grants that are going to become available from the government to ease impacted businesses.
The following is a message from Adam Shake at the EDC:

“The Estes Park EDC is prepared to support businesses experiencing financial impacts resulting from the pandemic. Business feedback is essential to their ability to support operations during this time and if your business has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, please let them know. You may contact Estes Park EDC President/CEO Adam Shake at ashake@estesparkedc.com or by calling 970-577-1031.”
 
Visit Estes Park is still moving forward with our April 29th Summit, but it will be entirely online instead of in person. We are planning to post a video presentation and open it up for comments and feedback, which will be a great way to learn about opportunities that you can take advantage of to help your business rebound. We are planning a face-to-face industry meeting to later in the Fall of 2020.
 
By working together and supporting each other, we will overcome these challenging times and hardships and we will continue to make every effort to support you and your teams. Our industry is a resilient one and our team is here to support each of you.

 
3/3/2020

Visit Estes Park has been following the rapidly evolving news about Coronavirus (COVID-19) internationally and domestically. We understand that our community and travelers may be concerned about COVID-19 and how it may affect them. At this point, Colorado has no cases and the risk of COVID-19 in the state is low. Our team is working directly with the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) to ensure we stay up-to-date on all the latest news related to COVID-19, and will keep you updated as messaging evolves. 
 
We believe it is important to allow the CTO and the US Travel Association to take the lead on messaging around COVID-19 as it is not impacting our community directly. If you do receive any media queries related to Estes Park tourism and COVID-19, please send them directly to public relations coordinator, Rachel Oppermann (roppermann@visitestespark.com).