Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) recently held a half-day seminar in Glenwood Springs to promote its regional re-branding initiative. Eagle, Summit, Garfield, and Pitkin Counties will be know as ‘the Rockies Playground.’ Visitors to these four counties spend $3.72 billion annually. An estimated 1.3 million visitors come to the Vail area each year; 650,000 in the winter and 650,000 visiting during the summer.
The CTO sought input from the seminar’s attendees regarding their challenges in attracting tourists, how to improve the collaboration between communities and towns in promoting day trips outside their town, and how local governments are accepting of tourism while also maintaining a harmony of life for their locals.
Mountain communities rely upon visitors to support their local economy and their town budgets. For example, in 2018, the Town of Eagle received $282,000 from its lodging tax, which is assessed at $4 per day, per occupied lodging room or accommodation. This lodging tax is shared equally with the town’s Open Space Fund, which maintains the town’s hiking and bike trails, and the Marketing & Events Advisory Committee (MEAC), which provides marketing funds for the town’s numerous local events produced by local organizations.
The CTO reports that in 2018 tourism’s value to the state as:
  • Annual spending of $22.3 billion on Colorado trips and vacations was up 6.7% compared to a national average increase of 4.1%.
  • That spending generated $1.37 billion in taxes for Colorado, with 61% of that shared among local governments. Tourism supported 174,000 jobs, a 1.9% increase over 2017.
  • Tourism business harvested $6.8 billion in 2018, up 7% from 2017.
  • Overnight leisure and business travel was flat, compared to a national increase of 2%. 
  • Colorado had the ninth-largest share of leisure travelers, up from the 18th largest share in 2009. 
  • Overall visitation climbed 1% to 85.2 million, with that increase attributed to day-trippers who are mostly Colorado residents. Day trips account for 56% of all Colorado travel.
  • International visitors, who spend an average of $2,438 per person per trip, topped more than 1 million for the first time in 2018, with about 40% of those 1,049,000 visitors coming from Mexico and Canada, and the remaining coming from the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, China and Japan.
  • The highest-spending domestic travelers are skiers, who spend $1,208 per person per trip. Golfers spend $571, touring vacationers spend $492 and city vacationers spend $412 per person, per trip. 
  • While ranking as the country’s top ski destination, Colorado ranks fourth among U.S. states for travelers seeking outdoor experiences such as hiking, rafting and camping.

For more information on the Colorado Tourism Industry, click here.