Boosting tourism on the Western Slope

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Grand Junction, Colo. (KKCO) -- With the announcement that a team will help lawmakers draft legislation to re-designate the Colorado National Monument as a National Park, talk of increased tourism to the Western Slope is giving residents hope about the currently struggling economy.

Grand Junction resident, Deena Sheetz, thinks that increased federal funding would help improve the roads and bring in tourists.

"I'm hoping that it goes through because I think that we could really use some more tourists coming in and some more dollars," said Sheetz.

Experts say that although we won't see a drastic increase in tourism immediately, we should begin to see a steady increase over the next ten years.

Division Manager for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, Barbara J. Bowman, said that a National Park will sincerely help our destination.

"Many times the tours go direction on to Moab or on to Black Canyon of the Gunnison because they are National Parks,” said Bowman. "For every motor coach that goes through Grand Junction and stays on a nightly basis we generate about $7,000. So this is, this is big business when you look at the amount of positive economic impact that can be generated from a national park."

Although legislators insist that the process of re-designation is a slow one, many residents, like Sheetz, are keeping their fingers crossed.

"We definitely need something in Grand Junction. I think once the oil and gas left, the economy in this valley is in pretty bad shape," said Sheetz. "Tourism or anything that will bring in some money, extra money and added dollars is good!"

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