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Lack of Research, Not Threats, Holding Back Pot Tourism Marketing in Denver

January 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM | by | ()

Last week, a source told us that Denver's Tourism Board "risked funding" if it created campaigns that catered to the legal sale of marijuana.

Turns out, we don't have to worry about anyone pulling the plug this year, because Visit Denver's 38-member board of directors has issued a one-year moratorium on marijuana tourism marketing.

Why? It's all about a lack of research on the return on investment. One might raise their eyebrows and point to Amsterdam's 30 years of legal weed, but the truth is that neither Amsterdamn nor Holland's tourism boards have ever directly marketed marijuana to tourists through their campaigns. Whether it brings in money or not is hardly the question (which it does) -- it's a matter of whether the marketing dollars result in a concrete return on investment.

To put it simply, would a marketing campaign be directly responsible for the return, or are people going to spend that money regardless of whether Visit Denver puts out an advertisement? Perhaps it can spend its dollars elsewhere and still reap the benefits of visitors looking to light up. At the end of the day, that's what this one-year ban is all about: Data collection. How many tax dollars did marijuana bring in? How much was sold to out of state visitors versus in-state residents? Etc., Etc.

As the official boards evaluate the situation, independent tour operators are not hesitating. According to the Denver Post, there are "at least three pot-themed tourism companies that didn't exist a year ago." For now, it seems the city and state are going to leave the promotion of pot to the private sector.

[Photo: Getty/AFP, Theo Stroomer]

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