Economy of Estes Park
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#1 Mar 8, 2014
It is unfortunate that Estes is so totally dependent on the tourist dollar. I moved into this area over 30 years ago hoping to find small town feel and a sense of community and not yet another tourist trap town. Unfortunately I was wrong. Having some diversity in the economy, such as high tech and light manufacturing would a wonderful thing, but Estes long ago sold its soul to the tourist dollar. As a result, myself and most nearby mountain residents do our shopping and business down in the Valley and avoid going to Estes except under the most dire necessity.
The Flood was a blessing in disguise for many of the residents surrounding Estes. Quiet and peace instead of the endless streams of traffic, bad mountain drivers, and folks from out of state or from the Denver area who don't seem to realize that there are local residents who deserve their privacy and peace. While Estes may be a destination for them, US36, US34 and Hwy 7 aren't Estes Park and aren't a tourist destination that entitles them to drive 20 mph below the speed limit backing up a long line of traffic while they rubberneck along routes that locals depend upon to commute to their jobs and down to the Valley to live their lives. Prices in Estes aren't set for the local and surrounding residents, they are set to extract the maximum profit they can strip from the tourists' wallets.
While I don't want to prevent anyone in Estes from making a living, at the same time Estes residents and businesses need to realize that whatever they do to increase tourism has many negative impacts on their neighbors. Neighbors who have rights equal to theirs. It would be far better and far more sustainable for Estes to try to diversify their economy with more sustainable income sources and downplay Tourism. Having a diverse economy based more on professional services, hi-tech and light manufacturing businesses provides jobs with a living wage rather than the minimum wage and sub-minimum wage jobs that the tourism industry depends on. Plus it would encourage a stable population rather than the many transient people who inundate the town from May through October desperately trying to make a living off the tourist economy. The Flood should have woken up many people in Estes to the fact that a natural disaster, an increase in the price of gas, an increase in the minimum wage - all these things and more might well be the death knell for the tourism economy.
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