Will tourists still come if they can’t light up? | VailDaily.com

Will tourists still come if they can’t light up?

Scott N. Miller

BEAVER CREEK – The Coyote Cafe was one of the smokiest bars in the valley five years ago. It might be entirely smoke free by the time the nearby ski mountain opens.The Coyote now allows smoking at the bar only after 9:30 p.m., after the kitchen closes. It’s one of only a handful of places in Beaver Creek that allows smoking in any form. And the tourists still come.

Tourists, especially foreign tourists, have been mentioned by smoking ban opponents. Smoking is more prevalent in Europe, Asia and Mexico than it is in the United States, the argument goes. If those foreign visitors can’t light up over dinner, they’ll go somewhere else.That hasn’t happened at the Coyote, manager Buzz Busby said.”We were wrong about almost all of our assumptions we had when we started this,” Busby said. Busby and owner Jeff Forbes were so wrong that it’s likely the Coyote will be entirely smoke-free when Beaver Creek Mountain opens next month.Before the Coyote limited smoking to the bar, then banned it entirely before 9:30 p.m., the place “was the smokiest bar in the valley,” Busby said.”We’d have doormen outside during apres ski, and they’d tell families with kids, ‘You probably don’t want to come in here,'” Busby said. “A year later, probably 60 percent of our apres business was families.”

But what about the foreigners?”My experience is there’s more of a growing acceptance of what’s being done in the United States,” said Jim Steinbach of the Vail Valley Convention and Tourism Bureau. “People traveling are likely to adopt to the customs of the places they visit.”Vail doesn’t have a smoking ban. But, as in other places, smoking in public is becoming less common. “I’ve never lost business into Vail because of the smoking issue,” Steinbach said.”I’m not suggesting we’d see no difference,” he added. “But I believe it’s understood these are the customs in this country.”Jan Strauch, owner of Overland and Express Travel, doesn’t book a lot of European families or groups on trips to Vail. But, he said, “Anyone who has traveled a lot will tell you that the Europeans, the Asians and the Mexicans smoke more.”I would say (a smoking ban) would be a negative overall,” he added. “It’s unfriendly.”And, like many business managers and owners, Busby said he doesn’t like the idea of being told how to run his place.”If the county commissioners were here, I’d tell them tomorrow we’re going non-smoking and then send in my ballot with a ‘no’ vote,” he said.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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