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ARCHIVED  March 1, 1996

Wyoming, Colorado join forces on tourism

If you encounter a tour bus at Greeley’s Centennial Village or the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie, chances are it’s there because of a unique cross-border marketing effort known as WYCOTA.
WYCOTA stands for the Wyoming Colorado Tour Association, and it exists to help persuade motor coach tours to get off Interstates 25 and 80 and explore the diversity of the northern Front Range.
“We hope to attract motor-coach tour groups to Northern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming,” explained Rita Greene of the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of seven communities that make up WYCOTA.
“We market ourselves nationally to get tour operators to add our communities as destinations,” she added. “Our goal is to bring those tourism dollars into our communities and to get people to stay overnight. We enlighten them to what’s off the interstates.”
WYCOTA was formed in the late 1980s at the suggestion of tourism promoters in Estes Park and a warm reception among the other participating communities — Greeley, Fort Collins, Loveland and Boulder in Colorado and Cheyenne and Laramie in Wyoming.
The visitors’ bureaus in the seven communities work together to promote a two-state region as well as their individual communities and specific events, such as Cheyenne Frontier Days or the Greeley Independence Stampede.
The all-for-one, one-for-all approach has been something of a trend-setter, said LeeAnn Sterling, executive director of the Greeley Convention and Visitors Bureau and one of WYCOTA’s founders.
“It’s been really neat to work together, to cooperate with each other, because it gets people here and gets them to stay longer,” she said. “At first, there was the fear we might be territorial, but that’s not been the case with WYCOTA.”
“It gives us the opportunity to showcase our communities, while giving us strength as a region,´ said Scott Binning, former director of the Cheyenne Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
WYCOTA suggests tour operators follow a loop that starts in Denver and then heads to Greeley, Cheyenne, Laramie, Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Boulder and then back to Denver. The loop covers slightly more than 300 miles and stretches from the prairies to the Front Range’s highest peaks.
The seven destination communities are generally within an hour of each other, and the longest leg of the tour is only 64 miles between Laramie and Fort Collins, so visitors have plenty of time to take in the sights, attractions and shopping before settling into their night’s motel.
“One of the things we have going for us is Rocky Mountain National Park, which is very popular and very well-known,” Binning said.
But the next biggest selling point is the rich history of the northern Front Range, whether it’s the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, watching cowboys on the range or just shopping in Old Town in Fort Collins.
Historically, many bus tours carry senior citizens, but tour operators are seeking to develop their own new markets, and there’s a growing trend toward specialty tours — everything from grandparent-grandchild tours to tours for history buffs and artisans, Sterling said.
It’s hard to say how effective WYCOTA has been, because the cooperating visitors bureaus don’t really have the resources to track each bus tour, but the feedback from motel owners and operators of tourism facilities has been very positive.
And it certainly isn’t expensive. The states of Colorado and Wyoming each kicked in $5,000 in seed money, and each community visitors bureau puts in $300 a year in annual dues. That helps pay for tour plans that include listings of motels, restaurants and attractions and periodic familiarization trips for tour operators, usually in the fall.
Much of the marketing comes during the annual National Tour Association meeting, where most of the Front Range communities are represented and have an opportunity to pitch not only their individual communities but the WYCOTA circle tour as well.
“We were kind of trend-setters,” Sterling said, adding that the idea of cross-border cooperation now has spread to other states. “It just makes sense to do cross-border marketing.”

If you encounter a tour bus at Greeley’s Centennial Village or the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie, chances are it’s there because of a unique cross-border marketing effort known as WYCOTA.
WYCOTA stands for the Wyoming Colorado Tour Association, and it exists to help persuade motor coach tours to get off Interstates 25 and 80 and explore the diversity of the northern Front Range.
“We hope to attract motor-coach tour groups to Northern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming,” explained Rita Greene of the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of seven communities that make up WYCOTA.
“We market ourselves nationally…

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