OUR VIEW

Where do we go from here?

Those in the business of bringing people to Steamboat Springs have been busy in the last two weeks but not "busy" in a "good" way.

With the country still trying to get a grip on how to deal with what happened on Sept. 11, airlines are cutting back on service and employees, and winter vacations skiing vacations apparently don't rank as high on the priority list as they did last month.

Locally, Steamboat Resorts reports phone volume has dropped 50 percent and cancellations are 25 percent higher than normal.

A travel industry consultant contracted by the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. released results of a survey last week indicating that 37 percent of a national sample agree the recent terrorism will influence their leisure travel plans. Conversely, 63 percent said their plans would not be influenced.

The survey by Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown also found that 35 percent of those surveyed expect to cancel a domestic leisure trip as a result of the terrorist attacks. And 68 percent said they would drive rather than fly whenever possible.

The challenges to pull off a successful winter tourism season are huge but ski area, travel and lodging officials say they're not giving up hope on winter 2001-02.

As a city that, like it or not, gets its lifeblood from the tourism dollar, we can't either.

The proverbial belt will have to be tightened this season and we will have to come together as a community through efforts such as supporting local vendors as much as we can and keeping a positive attitude toward visitors and neighbors alike.

And now might not be a bad time for businesses, city and county governments, and organizations, such as Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, to start looking at how they will approach winter 2002-03.

The tragedy that took thousands of lives has thrown up awesome challenges for the rest of the country. But we, at least, can decide, as a community, how we want to take on those obstacles.

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