About Better Destinations

Positioning Tourism as a 'Net Positive'

Creating a thriving destination requires more than attracting travelers. As never before, leaders are faced with creating flourishing tourism economies while addressing complex challenges. One-dimensional solutions can fall short of achieving desired results.

Better Destinations offers a better way. This flexible consulting practice is founded on a belief that healthy visitor ecosystems grow from addressing a holistic range of considerations. Better Destinations is equipped to assist leaders in maximizing the benefits of tourism while addressing impacts to achieve overall positive outcomes, including stakeholder support.

Drawing from nearly a decade of experience as state tourism director for two powerhouse states, Cathy Ritter has deep experience in developing customized, insight-led solutions to pressing tourism challenges. A specialty is action-oriented destination management planning, especially relating to sustainable or regenerative tourism. Another is guiding creation of initiatives to address specific objectives, whether low-impact tourism, visitor preparedness, inclusivity, workforce development or other interests.

Better Destinations is fueled by the power of partnership. Like few others, it offers a record of success in bringing people together to create timely and innovative solutions. It also draws strength from a deep awareness of emerging trends and readiness to leverage the right expert resources, whether local or global.

Find out more about how The Travel Foundation recommends positioning tourism as a “Net Positive” in Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism And learn how the Future of Tourism Coalition puts people and communities first through 13 Guiding Principles.

About Cathy Ritter

With a deep understanding of tourism dynamics in times of prosperity and crisis, Cathy Ritter has built a strong reputation for partnership, integrity and turning insights into action.

From her earliest days as an award-winning journalist to top roles in government and nonprofit settings, Cathy has learned from the best. In leading development of influential statewide tourism strategic plans for both Colorado and Illinois, she tapped into top-flight expert resources as well as the insights of stakeholders, residents included.

The Colorado Tourism Roadmap, now recognized as an early model for destination management planning, built the state’s competitive edge through pioneering initiatives to build collaboration, spark rural economies, and inspire visitors to try less-traveled destinations and seasons.

Cathy’s work to build out the “Are You Colo-Ready?” Destination Stewardship Plan is widely credited with leading a national movement toward responsible tourism. Embracing new measures of success, she re-focused Colorado’s $20 million domestic and international marketing effort from attracting ever more visitors to driving a collection of benefits across the state, including increased traveler spending.

Cathy has built strong connections with a wide range of North American and global travel experts and thought leaders. She currently serves as a Trustee of The Travel Foundation, an England-based NGO focused on global tourism sustainability, and is an Executive Consultant for MMGY NextFactor, participating in destination management and destination stewardship planning projects. Immediate past chair of the National Council of State Tourism Directors, she has served on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and as an officer of the Western States Tourism Policy Council.

She is a contributing author for a new book by the Center for Responsible Travel, Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future, released by Island Press in May 2021. She recently was named as an advisor to America 250, the official planning organization for the U.S. semiquincentennial in 2026.

Mountain Travel Symposium Panel to focus on using data insights

April 6th, 2022

Cathy Ritter is joining a panel of destination leaders from North Carolina, Sun Valley, Jasper and Asheville to delve into ways that real-time insights from events, visitation patterns and visitor spending can drive decision-making.

In this opening General Session sponsored by Zartico, Cathy will talk about ways big data can support valuable partnerships with public land managers and point the way to smart destination management strategies.

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Sessions To explore role of DMOs - Montana Gov Con

April 18th, 2022

To explore the rapidly evolving role of destination organizations, Cathy Ritter will be leading two sessions at the upcoming Montana Governor’s Conference of Tourism and Outdoor Recreation in Billings. An April 18 breakout will share insight into trends that are compelling destination organizations to reconsider their core missions, the way they relate to the communities they serve, and the need for new KPIs to measure success.

At a follow-on session April 19, Cathy will be joined by a panel of destination leaders discussing ways that Glacier Country Tourism, Whitefish, Big Sky, and Kalispell are finding new purpose and relevance by directing addressing community priorities.