Fighting fire with fire

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With a number of fires having burned in Colorado, we are all looking for ways to help. Thousands of people have been displaced, while hundreds of others have lost their homes.

We as a state are doing all that we can, in the public and private sectors, to assist those affected. Colorado’s hearts and thoughts are with our neighbors, family and friends who are struggling with this challenge.

If you want to help, you can make a donation the Red Cross disaster relief fund here, or by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS any time or 303-722-7474 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. More information can be found at about supplies and funding needed to help firefighters and those affected by the fires.

American Red Cross area spokeswoman Patricia Demchak Billinger said on Wednesday that businesses may contact the Red Cross directly to learn what specific needs may be.

“Another important thing you can do to contribute is to be prepared yourself, so if a disaster did strike in your community, you are able to recover and be resilient so the people who are affected have jobs to return back to,” she said.

You can do that by becoming a Ready Rating member with the Red Cross. The program provides a plan for businesses to implement in order to withstand any disaster.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s tourism officials are working to communicate that many of the attractions that make our state so beautiful are still open for business.

Colorado is a place to ride your bike, climb a rock or tour a number of stellar breweries. Lace up your hiking boots or buckle on your rafting life vest and encourage your friends from near and far to join you.

Resort communities like Vail are reportedly pacing well ahead of the same time last year, and tourism officials say people are anxious to come to the Centennial State. Those numbers can only help us to match the visitor rates we saw last year.

Longwoods International recently issued its annual survey of Colorado travelers that showed our state claimed 2.7 percent of the U.S. travel market in 2011. That equates to a 0.1 percent rise in tourism for Colorado, bringing in about $450 million in private sector spending at $40 million to state coffers.

Nearly 58 million travelers flocked to our state last year, spending $600 million more than they did a year earlier, adding oomph to a record $10.76 billion in total visitor spending for 2011. The City of Denver saw its best year ever for tourism, with 13.2 overnight visitors – a 4 percent increase over 2010.

Up to this point, according to Al White, head of the Colorado Tourism Office, businesses have been reporting double-digit increases in reservations.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal reported on Tuesday that destinations in the Pikes Peak Region – home of the Waldo Canyon Fire – are encouraging concerned tourists to keep their plans to travel to the area.

“The message we are giving is, yes, there are attractions closed, but there are others that are open,” Michele Carvell of Pikes Peak Country Attractions told the paper. “We are encouraging people not to abandon their plans to visit in our area.”

We all must do what we can to contribute to the battle and recovery efforts of these fires – and to continue to promote our state as a wonderful place to visit. Travelers can find wildfire updates and travel information here.


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