Great article from the DBJ and great news for Denver’s economy!
Visitors to Denver in 2015 came from farther away, stayed longer, spent more and showed up in greater numbers — 16.4 million, to be exact — than ever before, according to a study released Wednesday by Visit Denver, the area’s convention and visitors bureau.
The number of people coming to the area for overnight trips surged 6 percent from the previous record total recorded in 2014, according to the survey for Visit Denver by Longwoods International USA Inc, a travel consulting firm.
That rise included both a 6 percent bump in leisure travelers and a 9 percent bump in business travelers — the latter number particularly notable because business travel was flat nationally last year.
Those visitors spent $5 billion in the local economy, a 9 percent boost from 2014. Lodging accounted for the greatest portion of that spending (30 percent), followed closely by transportation (29 percent) and eating/drinking (20 percent).
The fact that Denver broke records for visitors and spending is not surprising — the area has been doing so pretty much every year since voters agreed to increase the lodgers’ tax in 2005 and Visit Denver ramped up its marketing in other cities.
But the fact that Denver’s visits are growing at three times the national rate of 2 percent shows that the city is making very good investments in targeting out-of-state markets and has put itself on the rise in terms of national destinations, saidAmir Eylon, Longwoods president.
“You’re seeing growth paces that double the national average,” Eylon said at a press conference Wednesday where the survey results were unveiled.
Eylon said that visitors have risen 52 percent since the 2005 marketing tax increase in Denver, while they’ve risen just 20 percent nationwide. “The takeaway here is that you guys are becoming a real national draw,” he said.
To illustrate that point, Eylon noted that just five years ago, 60 percent of out-of-state visitors to Denver came from western and southwestern states, but that figured dropped to 50 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of tourists coming to the Mile High City from the Northeast doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent over that same period.
Bringing in people from further away helped to inch up the average time visitors spent in Denver last year from 3.2 days to 3.3. That category remains below the national average of cities that tend to get visitors for 3.6 visitors, however.
Every extra night that Visit Denver can persuade someone to stay adds to the economic boost of a visit.
Last year, marketable leisure travelers — those who chose to come to Denver for reasons other than seeing friends and family — spent an average of $136 a night here, up 14 percent from 2014. Business travelers spent $149 a night, while people visiting friends and family forked over just $71 per day — a figure that’s remained largely flat for several years.
Visit Denver President/CEO Richard Scharf said that of the seven metro areas that produced the most overnight visitors to the Denver area in 2015, his organization has targeted marketing campaigns going in five of them — Chicago, Phoenix, Houston, Albuquerque and Dallas/Fort Worth. The only two exceptions to that were the top two visitor-producing cities, Los Angeles and New York City, where paid media costs much more.
Scharf said that Visit Denver leaders will comb through the Longwoods numbers in more depth now to discover new cities to target, cities for which they may be able to ramp down some of their marketing campaigns and particular attractions to spotlight in future advertising pushes.
Scharf added that the survey did not ask what influence legal marijuana had on anyone’s decision to visit the Denver area.
The top attractions once again for Denver visitors were shopping areas — the 16th Street Mall, Lower Downtown and the Cherry Creek area. The top paid attractions for visitors were Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum and Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater.
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