Vail Destination Stewardship Plan

During the rest of 2022, the Town of Vail will be creating a Destination Stewardship Plan, with the goals of:

  • Managing the growth of our tourism economy,
  • Protecting our way of life and the natural environment that we all love, and
  • Maintaining a world-class experience for our visitors and residents.

Why Is This a Priority?

There’s no doubt that we’ve reached a critical juncture for our town. Amid a global pandemic, when many destinations across the globe were seeing significant drops in visitation levels, Vail continues to see record-breaking numbers of visitors. This surge in visitation is putting pressure on natural resources and infrastructure, amplifying issues related to workforce and housing, and placing our residents and visitors at odds with one another.

What Is Destination Stewardship?

“Destination stewardship” is a strategic approach to tourism management that focuses on environmental, social and economic sustainability. We know that tourism is an important economic engine for our community. But we also know that tourism in a place as unique as Vail must be done in a way that preserves all that makes our community such a special place to live, work and visit.

How Will It Be Achieved?

The Destination Stewardship Plan will be developed through a community-driven process. Hundreds of regional stakeholders will be actively included in the process through a variety of engagements including interviews, town hall meetings, surveys, and focus groups.

How Can I Be Involved? Join a Visioning Session

We can’t do any of this without you, so please make your voice be heard. The Town of Vail will be hosting visioning sessions with members of the community from April to October, to better understand from you:

  • What challenges is tourism creating in our community?
  • What opportunities do you see to enhance the resident and visitor experience?
  • How can Vail create more positive benefits from tourism?

The final Public Feedback Session is:

The Final Public Workshops are:


The Destination Stewardship Plan will be created in collaboration with:



During the rest of 2022, the Town of Vail will be creating a Destination Stewardship Plan, with the goals of:

  • Managing the growth of our tourism economy,
  • Protecting our way of life and the natural environment that we all love, and
  • Maintaining a world-class experience for our visitors and residents.

Why Is This a Priority?

There’s no doubt that we’ve reached a critical juncture for our town. Amid a global pandemic, when many destinations across the globe were seeing significant drops in visitation levels, Vail continues to see record-breaking numbers of visitors. This surge in visitation is putting pressure on natural resources and infrastructure, amplifying issues related to workforce and housing, and placing our residents and visitors at odds with one another.

What Is Destination Stewardship?

“Destination stewardship” is a strategic approach to tourism management that focuses on environmental, social and economic sustainability. We know that tourism is an important economic engine for our community. But we also know that tourism in a place as unique as Vail must be done in a way that preserves all that makes our community such a special place to live, work and visit.

How Will It Be Achieved?

The Destination Stewardship Plan will be developed through a community-driven process. Hundreds of regional stakeholders will be actively included in the process through a variety of engagements including interviews, town hall meetings, surveys, and focus groups.

How Can I Be Involved? Join a Visioning Session

We can’t do any of this without you, so please make your voice be heard. The Town of Vail will be hosting visioning sessions with members of the community from April to October, to better understand from you:

  • What challenges is tourism creating in our community?
  • What opportunities do you see to enhance the resident and visitor experience?
  • How can Vail create more positive benefits from tourism?

The final Public Feedback Session is:

The Final Public Workshops are:


The Destination Stewardship Plan will be created in collaboration with:



  • Vail Community Invited to Next Phase of Steward Vail Workshops June 28 & 29

    The Vail Community is invited to join the next phase of Steward Vail public engagement sessions later this month to learn how the first-ever Destination Stewardship Plan is progressing and to provide feedback on key elements identified in community engagement sessions and through resident and guest surveys.

    In-person roundtable sessions have been scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 and repeated from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29. Both sessions will take place at Donovan Pavilion. A third session will take place virtually from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, July 18. For registration information, visit www.engagevail.com/stewardship.

    Those attending the latest round of sessions will have the following opportunities:

    • Hear findings of a brand perception and consumer segmentation study fielded last month by Strategic Marketing and Research Insights.
    • See early results of a Resident Sentiment Study building upon the findings of Vail's recent community survey. All Vail residents are encouraged to share their voice in the planning process at https://www.engagevail.com/stewardship.
    • Learn how the Travel Foundation's ongoing Sustainability Analysis, supported by Green Destinations, will guide Vail's future sustainability initiatives and identify priorities.
    • Take part in identifying key elements of the plan's vision and mission statements.

    Anyone with a stake in Vail’s future, including full- and part-time residents, business stakeholders, employees, nonprofits, governmental bodies, public land managers and others are encouraged to take part in the planning process.

    Following the feedback sessions, workshops on Wednesday, Oct. 19 and Thursday, Oct. 20 will give participants a chance to share thoughts on draft recommendations for the plan.

    The goal of Steward Vail is to create a 10-year vision and management plan that will advance Vail’s sustainability goals in step with local priorities while building Vail’s tourism economy. Specifically, the town is seeking ways to attract visitors who will support and respect the destination, while encouraging more equitable access to all that Vail offers.

    The plan is being facilitated by a consultant team representing three leading tourism organizations - Better Destinations, based in Denver; MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver; and the Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism. For additional details about Steward Vail, visit engagevail.com/stewardship or contact Vlaar at 970-479-2454 or mvlaar@vailgov.com.

  • Take the Survey Now: Vail Resident Sentiment Survey to Collect Community Preferences on Sustainable Tourism

    Vail community members are encouraged to take part in a short online survey that is being used to help prioritize community preferences on sustainable tourism.

    The Steward Vail survey builds upon a series of community workshops and discussions that took place in April during the first phase of a year-long planning process to develop a first-ever Destination Stewardship Plan for Vail.

    The 20-question survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N9P9QJC and probes community sentiment about the role and impact of tourism in Vail and ways to create more positive benefits from tourism. The survey is available for participation by full and part-time residents of Vail throughout the month of June.

    Preliminary results from the Steward Vail survey and other planning updates will be presented during public roundtable sessions in June. The sessions will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, and repeated from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29. Both engagement sessions will be held at Donovan Pavilion and light snacks will be provided. For registration information, visit www.engagevail.com/stewardship.

    Following the June workshops, the final series of public engagement sessions will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Thursday, Oct. 20, to offer participants a chance to share thoughts on the plan's draft recommendations.

    The goal of Steward Vail is to create a 10-year vision and management plan that will advance Vail’s sustainability goals in step with local priorities while building Vail’s tourism economy. Specifically, the town is seeking ways to attract visitors who will support and respect the destination, while encouraging more equitable access to all that Vail offers.

    The plan is being facilitated by a consultant team representing three leading tourism organizations - Better Destinations, based in Denver; MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver; and the Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism. For additional details about Steward Vail, visit engagevail.com/stewardship or contact Mia Vlaar at 970-479-2454 or mvlaar@vailgov.com.

  • Vail to Host June 6 Virtual Community Workshop to Gather More Input for Destination Stewardship Plan

    The Vail community is invited to join an upcoming online public engagement session to share input into Vail’s Destination Stewardship Plan. The session -- set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, June 6 -- will round out in-person workshops that occurred on April 27 and April 28. It has been scheduled to accommodate community members who were not able to attend the in-person sessions.

    To learn more about the Steward Vail plan and review takeaways from the April sessions, visit EngageVail.com/Stewardship. Register here for the June 6 session no later than 5 p.m. Sunday, June 5.

    Steward Vail project manager Mia Vlaar, the town’s economic development director, says the series of workshops is structured to gather ideas on major elements of the plan, including four major themes:

    • Workforce & Housing
      • What are ways to address challenges for workers and employers?
    • The Vail Economy
      • What are the opportunities and challenges for Vail's tourist-centric economy?
    • Environment & Sustainability
      • What are your priorities for managing the environmental impacts of tourism and recreation?
    • Quality of Life/Quality of Experience
      • What else needs to happen to improve Vail's quality of life and the quality of the guest experience?

    Anyone who has a stake in Vail’s future, including full- and part-time residents, business stakeholders, employees, nonprofits, governmental bodies, public land managers and others are encouraged to take part in the planning process.

    Another two rounds of public workshops are planned. Public engagement sessions on Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29 will provide an opportunity to share feedback to initial findings. Workshops on Wednesday, Oct. 19 and Thursday, Oct. 20 will give participants a chance to share thoughts on the plan's draft recommendations.

    The goal of Steward Vail is to create a 10-year vision and management plan that will advance Vail’s sustainability goals in step with local priorities while building Vail’s tourism economy. Specifically, the town is seeking ways to attract visitors who will support and respect the destination, while encouraging more equitable access to all that Vail offers.

    The plan is being facilitated by a consultant team representing three leading tourism organizations - Better Destinations, based in Denver; MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver; and the Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism. For additional details about Steward Vail, visit EngageVail.com/stewardship or contact Vlaar at 970-479-2454 or mvlaar@vailgov.com.

  • Vail Invites Community Members to Share Priorities during April Visioning Sessions that will Launch Destination Stewardship Plan

    The first in a series of community visioning workshops will take place later this month, kicking off a year-long planning process to create a Destination Stewardship Plan for Vail. The ‘Steward Vail’ roundtable discussions will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, and repeated from 12 to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 28. Both sessions will be held at Donovan Pavilion, and light snacks will be provided.

    Full- and part-time residents, business stakeholders, employees, nonprofits, governmental bodies, public land managers and others who care about Vail’s future are encouraged to attend. Reservations are now being taken at engagevail.com/stewardship as space is limited. Attendees are asked to register no later than 5 p.m. Monday, April 25.

    Steward Vail project manager Mia Vlaar, the town’s economic development director, says the April workshops will gather feedback and secure ideas for increasing benefits and minimizing impacts of tourism to optimize the value of Vail's top economic driver. For instance, discussion topics will include ways Vail could attract visitors who value sustainability and are inclined to protect community resources including the natural environment and built infrastructure. "We really want to hear from everyone who cares about Vail," said Vlaar. "These sessions provide a unique opportunity to join with a variety of members of the Vail community to explore what's important and bring it to the fore to inform the development of the plan."

    The April sessions will be followed by two additional rounds of workshops. Discussions on Tuesday, June 28, and Wednesday, June 29, will center on sharing feedback to initial findings. Workshops on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Thursday, Oct. 20, will give participants a chance to share thoughts on the plan's draft recommendations.

    The goal of Steward Vail is to create a 10-year vision and management plan that will advance Vail’s sustainability goals in step with local priorities while building Vail’s tourism economy. Specifically, the town is seeking ways to attract visitors who will support and respect the destination, while encouraging more equitable access to all that Vail offers.

    The plan is being facilitated by a consultant team representing three leading tourism organizations - Better Destinations, based in Denver, MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver, and the Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism. For additional details about Steward Vail, visit engagevail.com/stewardship or contact Vlaar at 970-479-2452 or mvlaar@vailgov.com.

  • The Partnership Podcast


    Join host Erik Williams, Director of Community Development at Vail Valley Partnership as he sits with Town of Vail Economic Development Manager Mia Vlaar and Founder and CEO of Better Destinations Cathy Ritter to discuss the upcoming Vail Destination Stewardship Plan.

    Over the next nine months, The Town of Vail will be creating a Destination Stewardship Plan, with the goals of:

    • Managing the growth of our tourism economy, protecting our way of life and the natural environment that we all love, and maintaining a world-class experience for our visitors and residents.
    • The Destination Stewardship Plan will be developed through a community-driven process. Hundreds of regional stakeholders will be actively included in the process through a variety of engagements including interviews, town hall meetings, surveys, and focus groups.
  • Vail Selects Consulting Team to Lead Destination Stewardship Plan

    A consultant team representing three leading tourism organizations has been selected to lead the year-long planning process to develop a Destination Stewardship Plan for the community, putting Vail on a path to align its thriving tourism economy with community priorities and enhance its global reputation as a sustainable destination for travelers. A $169,500 contract authorizing the work was unanimously approved by the Vail Town Council at its Feb. 1 meeting. The selection followed a review of proposals submitted during a request for proposals process announced in November 2021.

    Adoption of a Destination Stewardship Plan for Vail will be among the first in the nation and fulfills a requirement of Vail’s ongoing certification as a Sustainable Tourism Destination first attained in 2017 under the Mountain IDEAL standard, a framework recognized by Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The study area incorporates the Gore Creek watershed, including the town boundaries and the Vail Mountain permit area.

    “The destination stewardship planning process will engage our community in creating a vision and plan to guide our tourism initiatives into the future,” said Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid. “Ultimately the stewardship plan will help us optimize guest experiences and protect our unique assets, while minimizing the negative impacts of tourism and unintended consequences that can arise.”

    Better Destinations of Denver and MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver will share overall project leadership of the Destination Stewardship Plan. The Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism, will support the town in further strengthening its globally recognized sustainable tourism initiatives.

    Better Destinations Founder and CEO Cathy Ritter, who headed the Colorado Tourism Office from 2015 to 2021, will lead the study which will incorporate expertise from the partner agencies. Together the team has delivered insights and strategies for more than 250 destinations across the globe, including a Destination Management Plan for Breckenridge adopted in 2019. Ritter co-led and co-wrote the Colorado Tourism Roadmap which is widely recognized as one of the first destination management plans in the U.S. MMGY NextFactor and Better Destinations currently are working to create one of the first Destination Stewardship Plans in North America for an eight-county region surrounding Glacier National Park.

    "By being among the first to make destination stewardship the focus of a planning process, Vail is signaling a commitment to deciding what kind of destination it wants to be and involving local stakeholders every step of the way," said Ritter. "Our work will center on engaging with the community to identify priorities and create a shared vision for a tourism economy that delivers real benefits for locals and guests, and offsets impacts of visitation in meaningful ways."

    Set to launch immediately, the 11-month planning process will create numerous opportunities for both full- and part-time residents, business stakeholders, nonprofits, governmental bodies, public land managers and others to participate. Consultations will include one-on-one interviews, focus groups and public visioning workshops.

    The goal is to create a 10-year vision and management plan harnessing Vail's tourism economy to deliver a high quality of life for residents along with quality guest experiences. The town is seeking ways to attract visitors who will support and respect the destination, while encouraging more equitable access to all that Vail offers. Another priority is to celebrate the town’s remarkable heritage and the role it has played in Colorado's history of winter sport.

    Community engagement opportunities and project updates will be hosted on EngageVail.com. Watch for announcements soon for project details.

    The town's point person for the project is Mia Vlaar, director of economic development, with support from Kristen Bertuglia, director of environmental sustainability. Also playing key roles in the planning process are the town's six key community partners: U.S. Forest Service, Vail Resorts, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Vail Recreation District, Holy Cross Energy, and Walking Mountains Science Center.

    Currently, the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts share responsibility for managing and marketing the destination. Vail Resorts manages winter season marketing, while the Town's Vail Local Marketing District generates about $4 million annually from a 1.4 percent lodging tax. The Town uses the proceeds to market natural attractions, local businesses, and special events outside of the winter season.

    The planning timeline aims at securing the Town Council's approval of the completed destination stewardship plan by December 31, 2022, allowing Vail to attain full compliance with the Mountain IDEAL standard. Vail was the first global mountain destination to achieve that standard in 2017 and was given five years to complete a destination plan.

    The following year, Green Destinations named Vail among the world's Top 100 Sustainable Destinations. To date, only two other mountain destinations - Breckenridge and Jackson Hole - have attained certification under a Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognized standard such as Mountain IDEAL.

    The Town of Vail is considering a separate community planning initiative for next year to replace the Vision 2020 plan that has guided the destination since 2008. Findings from the destination stewardship plan are intended to support the future community planning process.

    For more information about the planning process, contact Mia Vlaar at mvlaar@vailgov.com or 970-479-2454.



    Better Destinations
    Better Destinations is a consultancy founded on a belief that healthy visitor economies grow from addressing a holistic range of considerations and engaging stakeholders in shaping destination priorities. The consultancy draws upon CEO Cathy Ritter’s decade of experience as state tourism director for both Colorado and Illinois and record of creating insight-led solutions.

    MMGY NextFactor
    MMGY NextFactor is an industry-leading consulting firm specializing in travel and tourism. Its team of experts has delivered insights and strategies to more than 250 destinations across the globe. In 2019, the firm joined forces with MMGY Global, the world’s largest integrated marketing company specializing in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries.

    The Travel Foundation
    The Travel Foundation is a leading global sustainable tourism organisation that works in partnership with governments, businesses, and communities to develop and manage tourism to maximise its benefits for communities and the environment. Founded in 2003, it has since worked in around 30 countries around the world.

Page last updated: 05 Jul 2022, 12:28 PM