Out-of-state visitors set record
DENVER ” State tourism officials say a record 25.8 million travelers flocked to Colorado from other states last year, a 4 percent increase from the year before.
The study, commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office, credited a $4.9 million, multicity advertising campaign for the increase.
Michael Erdman of Longwoods International, the marketing research firm that produced the study, said the ad campaign attracted an additional 5.3 million visitors between October 2003 to December 2004 who otherwise would not have come.
“The advertising was definitely a part of the increase,” Erdman said.
Travelers spent $7.3 billion in Colorado and increased revenue to state and local governments by $526.47 million, the study said.
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“Everybody in Colorado has been impacted by tourists,” said Pete Meersman, chairman of the tourism office board. “They’re paying taxes. They’re paying for our schools, roads, and prisons.”
The report said 22.3 million people came to state for pleasure: 11.2 million to visit friends or relatives and 11.1 million to ski or enjoy the outdoors or theme parks.
Business travel dipped slightly last year to 3.5 million, down 2 percent from 3.6 million the year before. But officials said a long slide in business travel to Colorado may be leveling off.
“After 9-11, the high-tech bust, drought, and wildfires, the state is showing strong signs of recovery,” said Brian Vogt, director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “In 2005, we expect a solid recovery across the board.”
Vogt said the opening of the Colorado Convention Center last year allowed the state to compete with other cities for conventions and other business functions.
Erdman said he was surprised by the number of people ” 610,000 last year ” who travel to Colorado to gamble in the state’s casinos.
“It’s not like Las Vegas,” Erdman said. “But the popularity of gambling has seen a nationwide growth and that’s helped in Colorado.”
Officials said the campaign, including print, radio, television and Web ads, will continue this year. They could not say what the total expense would be.