Denver Sets Fullyear Visitor Record Once Again

Dated: 06/18/2014

Views: 830

Ed Sealover Reporter-Denver Business Journal
Jun 18, 2014, 12:01am MDT

More than 14 million people visited the Denver area in 2013 and spent more than $4 billion — both full-year records for a city that continues to benefit more and more from tourism, according to an annual study released Wednesday by Visit Denver.

The number of visitors represents a 3 percent increase from 2012 and the spending bump is a full 12 percent abovethe 2012 record— a mismatched boost that Visit Denver President/CEO Richard Scharf attributed to tourists being willing to spend more on hotels, meals and attractions than they did in the years shortly after the Great Recession.
The number of business and convention travelers remained largely flat from 2012 to 2013 and the number of people coming to the area to visit family or friends fell by 2 percent. But the number of “marketable” visitors — leisure travelers who choose where to go not based on work or family considerations — shot up 13 percent year over year, according to the study from Toronto-based firm Longwoods International.
Those marketable visitors — who spend an average of $113 per day versus the $68 a day shelled out by vacationers seeing family and friends — are the ones who Visit Denver targets through its increasingly national advertising campaigns.
“We’re excited,” Scharf said after learning the results of the study. “It shows that the marketing we’ve been doing is paying off for Denver.”
Denver outpaced the national average in each of the three categories of visitors. Nationally, visits to friends and family fell 3 percent, the number of business travelers dropped off by 11 percent and the number of marketable visitors jumped by 9 percent.

Though business travelers to the city spent more on average than each of the other three groups — $368 per trip as compared to $293 per trip for marketable leisure visitors — it was leisure travelers who contributed $3.16 billion of the $4 billion spent by tourists in Denver last year, according to the study. Overall leisure spending was up 14 percent, while business spending grew by 5.6 percent.
One of the few areas where Denver experienced a downturn was in the average length of stay of its visitors. Leisure travelers spent an average of 3.2 nights in the city in 2013, down from 3.4 in 2012; business travelers remained flat at an average of 3.8 nights per stay.
Though the reasons for the influx of visitors can be hard to quantify, the Longwoods study noted that Denver’s image among travelers scored higher in 2013 than it had the year before in a number of categories, including its nightlife and entertainment scene, its arts scene and its offering interesting festivals and events.
Slightly more than 70 percent of the visitors surveyed categorized the Mile High City as a place they would “really enjoy visiting again.”
The 16th Street Mall remained the most popular shopping and entertainment area, followed by Lower Downtown and Cherry Creek.
Denver Zoo, meanwhile, remained the most popular single attraction in and around Denver, followed by the Colorado State Capitol and the Coors Brewery in Golden.
While many cities felt a downturn in overnight travelers during the Great Recession, Denver had only a slight decline in those visitors from 2008 to 2009 and otherwise has experienced a continuous upward trend since 2003.
Scharf said that those 10 years of growth and the higher visitor-satisfaction scores seem to confirm to him that Denver has gone from being a gateway city to the mountains to a city that is attracting national travelers.
“In the old days, people would land at DIA, hop on I-70, call their friends in Denver and tell them to meet them in the mountains,” he said. “Today they come into Denver and stay a few days here. I think Denver has turned the corner of being a destination city.”

Marc Blitstein

Marc Blitstein has been a licensed Real Estate Agent since 2004. Real estate experience has been in employee relocation, residential property, short sales, investment property, and bank owned property....

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