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VISIT DENVER's Efforts Attract Tens of Millions of Tourists

Led by Richard Scharf,the nonprofit trade assocaition is responsible for marketing metro Denver as a convention and leisure destination


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Richard Scharf’s career in hospitality began with Hilton Hotels in 1983, and the depth of his experience has helped elevate VISIT DENVER, a private, nonprofit trade association responsible for marketing metro Denver as a convention and leisure destination. Under Scharf’s supervision, VISIT DENVER has won all of the meeting industry’s top convention service awards for the past 18 years and has adopted a sophisticated integrated marketing approach to sell Denver as a travel destination, which includes everything from telemarketing to trade shows to the latest in technology.

VISIT DENVER’s efforts helped attract 17.3 million visitors to Denver in 2016 who spent $5.3 billion, contributing $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenues. The nonprofit has nearly 1,300 private business members and a more than $23 million budget. That marketing budget nearly doubled after Scharf led a successful campaign in 2005 to increase the lodging tax in Denver.

Scharf is the past chairman of the board of the Governor’s Colorado Tourism Office and a past president of the Tourism Industry Association of Colorado, where he played a significant role in the effort to restore state tourism marketing funding. Scharf also serves on the Mayor and Governor’s Olympic Exploratory Committee and is a member of Colorado Concern, a nonpartisan association of CEOs who work toward solutions to mutual statewide business challenges.

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Lisa Ryckman

Lisa Ryckman is ColoradoBiz's managing editor. Contact her at lryckman@cobizmag.com.

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