About Better Destinations

Positioning Tourism as a 'Net Positive'

Creating a thriving destination requires more than attracting travelers. As never before, destination leaders are faced with creating thriving 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 destination development, low-impact tourism, visitor preparedness, inclusivity, or other interests.

Better Destinations is fueled by the power of partnership. Like few other consultancies, 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.

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. In 2017, she approached the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to partner with the Colorado Tourism Office in creating inspirational stewardship messaging for travelers, ultimately establishing the foundation for their work with many other destinations. 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. 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.

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

IITA panel to explore potential of sustainable travel

February 14th, 2023

Cathy Ritter is joining a general session at the Inbound International Travel Association’s Annual Summit in San Diego to discuss the potential of sustainable travel and what it means for the U.S. travel industry.

To be moderated by Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann, the panel also will explore emerging best practices and availability of sustainable travel product. Other panelists include IITA Chairman and Travelco President Peter van Berkel, BWH Hotel Group’s Ron Pohl, and Tourism Cares CEO Greg Takehara.

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Travel Nevada's 3D project to build appeal for six rural destinations

Embracing an innovative approach to destination development, Travel Nevada is on a path to expand the state's tourism economy by giving six rural destinations a chance to build their appeal for desirable travelers.

The new Destination Development Demonstration (3D) Project -- developed by Better Destinations in collaboration with Travel Nevada -- provides each selected destination with a customized 32-week planning process plus a way to activate their ideas through a one-time $2 million federally funded grant program.

Projects targeted for development include guided experiences on tribal lands, a new Carson Valley arts and culture corridor, and a wide range of outdoors and heritage experiences in Nevada's vast landscapes.

The 2-year-plus 3D project is structured to jumpstart Travel Nevada's brand-new focus on destination development and shape it as a permanent part of their mission. The Better Destinations team includes project co-leader Mitch Nichols, president of Nichols Tourism Group, Inc., and research lead Carl Ribaudo, president and chief strategist of SMG Consulting.