Local tourism engine Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information Bureau has hired longtime Cortez resident Kelly Kirkpatrick as its new executive director.
“I’m very excited,” said Kirkpatrick. “I’m well familiar with Mesa Verde Country and the important role they play in the community.”
Kirkpatrick has an extensive marketing background, and longtime love of Montezuma County.
“We moved here when we were youngsters, after my parents bought a motel, so I kind of got an early exposure to the local tourism industry,” she explained.
Over the last year or so Mesa Verde Country has expanded its focus beyond Mesa Verde National Park to market the area’s vast recreational assets. The tourism bureau recently launched a new marketing and branding campaign to promote the entire county as a tourism destination, highlighting the numerous offerings in Cortez, Dolores and Mancos.
“Outdoor recreation is huge here, locals know that, but we’ll be working on getting that our to other people and let them know that each town has its own personality and features that are worth exploring,” said Kirkpatrick.
According to a September report, tourism numbers in Montezuma County for 2013 were the highest they have been since the 2008 recession. Mesa Verde National park visitation surpassed the half-million visitor mark in 2014 for the first time since 2011.