Last year was a good year for tourism in the Pikes Peak region, according to a study commissioned by the Convention and Tourism Bureau, and this year might prove even better.
The Lodgers and Automobile Renter's Tax (LART) is up 4 percent through April, the CVB reports, compared to the same period in 2017.
The study, conducted by Longwoods International, which CVB says is a leader in tourism research, found the region welcomed 23 million people. Of those, 13 million came for day trips and 10 million stayed at least one night. Those visitors infused some $6.3 million per day into the local economy and accounted for $1.6 billion in total spending for those who have overnight stays, a 7 percent rise over 2016.
The CVB notes in a release that while the total number of visitors was essentially flat in 2017 compared to the prior year, spending increased in the overnight category.
"Two main goals of our Destination Master Plan are to increase the length of stay and total visitor spend," CVB President and CEO Doug Price says in the release. "With higher demand for our area’s attractions and natural landmarks, increasing the length of trip and amount of money infused into our destination is the best way to maximize economic impact in a sustainable and responsible way.”
The Destination Master Plan is a long-term roadmap on how to improve the visitor experience for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
Of note is the breakdown of where overnight visitors stayed, as depicted in the chart above.
The largest percentage (24 percent) rented hotel rooms, but nearly as many stayed with friends or relatives (23 percent).
With the city in the throes of writing regulations for Airbnb-type lodging
, it's interesting to note that only 6 percent chose one of those types of accommodates, says the CVB's Chelsy Offutt via email. "We suspect if someone stayed in an AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, etc., it would be included in the 'rented home/condo/apartment' and 'rented cottage/cabin' categories, but haven’t confirmed this," she notes.
Garden of the Gods is a popular tourist attraction, drawing 6 million people in 2017.
Other findings from the Longwoods study:
• Almost eight in 10 overnight visitors used a smart phone during their stay for travel/activity planning purposes.
• Overnight visitors to the Pikes Peak region spent an average of 2.8 nights in the region, up slightly from 2.6 nights in 2016.
• The average travel party size in 2017 was 3 persons, a slightly larger party than the national average of 2.8 persons.
• About six in 10 overnight Pikes Peak region travelers arrived by personal vehicle, while most of the remainder flew into Denver International Airport or Colorado Springs Airport.
• In 2017, the five most popular activities and experiences on an overnight trip to the region were shopping, visiting a national or state park, hiking/backpacking, visiting a landmark/historic site and fine dining.
• About one-third of overnight visitors indicate that historic places were of specific interest on their trip, while one in four said their trip was focused on cultural attractions and experiences.
Also from the release:
According to CVB Chief Innovation Office Amy Long, knowing how visitors are inspired and what they like to do in the region is an important component to craft the organization’s marketing messages. “This detailed profile guides our advertising strategy, annual media mix, timing and creative development. We are positioning Colorado Springs as Olympic City USA, a year-round inspirational destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts, arts and culture travelers and those who plan meetings and events. Based on the goals of our Destination Master Plan, we are working on tactics to attract visitors from farther away who will stay longer and spend more.”