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Increased Colorado tourism attributed to national marketing

Office seeks input on plan to maximize state tourism
Photographers line an overlook to Spruce Tree House in 2010 to take pictures during the Mesa Verde Luminaria Open House.

The Colorado Tourism Office credits its national marketing campaign for a 34.2 percent increase in overall traveler spending in 2015 and an increase in spending from visitors outside the West.

The share of traveler spending from nearby Western states dropped from 71 percent in 2011 to 60 percent in 2015 as the tourism office expanded its marketing footprint nationwide. Notably, the most dramatic increases came from travelers from the Pacific states, where contribution to Colorado’s traveler spending grew from 9 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2015, and from the Northeast, which increased from 5 percent to 8 percent, the office said.

“This is some of the best and most positive evidence we’ve seen that increased media budgets and a concerted strategy can yield the desired results,” said Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “These shifts in travel behavior not only infused new dollars into Colorado’s business economy, but generated significant increases in state and local tax revenues,” she said.

In 2015, Colorado set all-time records welcoming 77.7 million visitors to the state who spent $19.1 billion and generated $1.13 billion in tax revenue.

The findings are part of a preliminary report from an eight-month initiative to develop the a strategic plan known as the Colorado Tourism Roadmap. The office plans to share the findings in public meetings held Oct. 11-14 and on Nov. 3 in selected cities statewide.

The tourism office kicked off the planning process in June with an initial round of eight listening sessions. Those findings, along with additional research, have been compiled into a State of the Industry Report by a consortium of planners led by Nichols Tourism Group of Bellingham, Washington.

Other major findings to date include:

Colorado can become “destination architects,” by creating “destination drivers” to attract targeted, high-value travel segments.Direct travel spending growth over the past five years has been most significant in the Denver and mountain resort regions even though many of the state’s top attractions are not located in those areas. The office said that it plans to focus on regions that would benefit from increased traveler activity.Low-cost initiatives to encourage Coloradans to explore their own state could benefit less-traveled areas and offset states’ efforts to lure Colorado travelers.Residents from Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico are more likely to visit Colorado than residents from other states.In its second round of listening sessions, the CTO’s strategic planning team will seek public input into these major findings to lay the groundwork for developing the full strategic plan, which is set for a vote before the Colorado Tourism Board in January 2017.

Input sessions

The schedule for the second round of input sessions includes:

Oct. 13: Salida SteamPlant in Salida, 9-10:30 a.m.

Oct. 14: City Hall Auditorium in Grand Junction, 8:30-10 a.m.

Oct. 14: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Durango, 3:30-5 p.m.

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