Barbara Bowman takes in the views from the Devils Kitchen picnic area in the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. It’s just one of the attractions she’s promoted during a nearly 30-year career in Western Colorado with Visit Grand Junction and Visit Durango. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Barbara Bowman takes in the views from the Devils Kitchen picnic area in the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. It’s just one of the attractions she’s promoted during a nearly 30-year career in Western Colorado with Visit Grand Junction and Visit Durango. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

A woman who’s spent nearly three decades promoting the attractions of Western Colorado to tourists around the world has been awarded for her efforts.

Barbara Bowman won the 2019 Colorado Tourism Office Board Chairman’s Award, one of the highest honors bestowed to those who work in the tourism industry in the state.

Bowman worked for Visit Grand Junction for 27 years, most recently as division director, before retiring in 2018. She’s worked for the past nine months as interim executive director of Visit Durango.

The award, presented at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference annual awards dinner, recognizes individuals who work in the tourism industry.

The Governor’s Tourism Conference Committee reviews and evaluates nominees based on their significant and lasting contributions; creative and innovative approaches; and dedication, inspiration and leadership.

“Congratulations to Barb for receiving one of the highest honors from the Colorado tourism industry,” said Bruce Moss, chairman of the Durango Area Tourism Office board of directors. “On behalf of the DATO staff and board of directors, we’d also like to recognize and thank Barb for the leadership, vision and inspiration she has provided to Visit Durango over the past nine months.”

Moss said Bowman guided Visit Durango through a transitional time and helped support a strong recovery for regional tourism in the aftermath of wildfires in Southwest Colorado.  Bowman also was involved in putting new systems in place to track and measure the value and effectiveness of tourism marketing efforts while working with the City of Durango to ensure a cohesive strategy. In addition, Bowman helped coordinate a community assessment panel to hire an executive director.

Visit Durango hired Rachel Brown from Visit Fisherman’s Wharf as executive director. Brown is expected to begin her new duties Nov. 18. Bowman will work with Brown to support the Visit Durango staff and board through the transition and then continue to work with the organization in an advisory role.

Bowman grew up in Denver and earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She subsequently lived and worked in Germany and traveled throughout Europe and Africa.

Bowman returned to the United States and worked for travel agencies. She married and moved with her husband to Western Colorado when he relocated for jobs in Gunnison and then Grand Junction. Bowman handled guest services for a hotel in Crested Butte and then sales for a radio station in Grand Junction.

Bowman joined in 1991 what was at the time the newly created Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau. She was one of the first employees hired by Debbie Kovalik, the director.

Bowman and Kovalik developed a statewide reputation for their efforts to brand the Grand Valley as Colorado’s wine country and use the Internet for destination marketing.

Bowman served on the Colorado Tourism Board, the National Tour Association board and was president of the Rotary Club of Grand Junction.