Al White to head tourism office for Hickenlooper |

Al White to head tourism office for Hickenlooper

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, whose Senate District 8 includes the Interstate 70 corridor from Rifle to Vail, will join the administration of Democratic Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper as director of the Colorado Tourism Office.

“After fighting for Colorado’s tourism industry for over a decade in the General Assembly I am excited to begin this new endeavor,” said White, who is two years into his first term in the state Senate. He served for eight years as the House District 57 representative.

White has served on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business Affairs and Labor, Education, Water Resources Review and Legislative Audit committees, as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee and Joint Budget Committee.

He has also been on the Colorado Tourism Office board for 10 years and was instrumental in securing funding for tourism promotion in Colorado.

“Governor-elect Hickenlooper came to me and asked if I would take over the open director position, and I was thrilled and flattered to have that invitation,” White said. “Tourism is a great tool to create jobs and invest in the economy, and I look forward to working with a governor who understands that.”

The appointment was made on Tuesday.

White’s Senate district includes Eagle, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, and most of Garfield County, including the population centers of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Rifle, Vail, Eagle, Steamboat Springs, Craig, Meeker and Rangely.

District 8 Republicans will form a vacancy committee to take nominations for an appointment to be made after the first of the year, said Jesse Mallory, communications director for the Colorado Senate Republicans.

“Senator White has been one of tourism’s strongest allies in the General Assembly,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman. “Colorado is lucky to have someone with such passion and talent leading this effort.”

After Colorado voters declined to renew a state sales tax to fund tourism promotion in 2003, White worked to secure funding within the state’s general fund.

However, the tourism budget is proposed to be trimmed from $15 million this year to $10 million in the 2011-12 budget.

“That’s going to be my biggest challenge,” White said. “It’s no different than any other kind of marketing; it’s all about putting our message out there that we have a great product. That message needs to be aggressive and consistent.

“Our beautiful state has the perfect climate for family and business,” he said. “We want people to visit every corner of Colorado and decide to stay for a lifetime.

White was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and relocated to Colorado 35 years ago, where he attended the University of Colorado. He later moved to Winter Park where he and his wife, Jean, spent 25 years as owners and operators of several ski shops, a bike shop and a mountain lodge. More recently, they relocated to Hayden.

The Colorado Tourism Office was created by the Legislature 10 years ago to promote Colorado tourism. The office is governed by a 15-member board of directors, including four legislators and 11 members appointed by the governor and representing various tourism and travel industry segments.

Administrative oversight is provided by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

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