For us locals who already love the state, it’s no surprise that Colorado is nationally recognized as one of the most desirable places to live. We already knew that –after all, that’s why we live here to begin with– but it is nice to have the recognition.
Recently, we have been nominated towards the top of lists naming some of the Best Vacation spots in the U.S. For the state, this is wonderful news – ever since Colorado residence voted to approve an increase in tourism marketing dollars in 2005, Denver tourism has grown by 65 percent, while the national average hovered somewhere around 24 percent.
Although tourism has become a large source of revenue for our state, for locals, we mostly see it as a large source of traffic-inducing headaches and crowded lift lines.
It would serve us well, though, to remember that many of us who now call ourselves “locals” (NOT to be confused with “natives”, as we are constantly reminded) started out as tourists. We came here to vacation in sunny Colorado with our friends and families, likely not expecting to fall in love.
But here we are, many years later, still in awe of whatever it was that made us pack up our past lives and adopt the Coloradan lifestyle. Of course, not all tourists decide to make a permanent lifestyle change, but a shocking majority (87%) can’t resist the lure of Colorado, and have taken vacation here at least once before.
In fact, a majority of vacationers love Colorado so much that 79 percent of them stated that they only considered Colorado when looking for a vacation destination. When they did consider other locations, the top state alternates included California (5%), Arizona (2%), and Utah (2%). These are states where you can also find beautiful mountain landscapes without traveling too far from a metro area.
What sets us apart from the other mountain states is our world-class ski towns and resorts. Colorado secured a first place ranking among the 50 states for overnight ski trips with a 21.1 percent share in 2017! This is even larger than our significant 18.7 percent share the year before.
Although these numbers are impressive, about 50 percent of all travel spend actually happened in the Denver Metro area. This makes sense, as Denver Metro was the most popular place to visit (6 in 10 vacationers spent at least some time and 48 percent spent at least one night). The next largest revenue segment were Mountain Resort towns, garnering 24 percent of travel spend. One in four travelers decided to spend their time in the mountain towns and ski resorts, Pikes Peak Region and/or the Northern Front Range.
The largest portion money spent (about $4.5 billion) went to accommodations (hotels/motels/B&Bs/cabins etc.). Around $3.3 billion was put towards local transportation, and another $2.3 billion was spent on sightseeing, recreation, and attractions around the state. This totals to approximately $6.5 billion dollars from a total of 37.9 million visitors– an all-time high for our state!
Almost 50 percent of these visitors came on “marketable trips”, meaning that they chose Colorado as their vacation destination just for kicks and leisure. Another 40 percent traveled to Colorado to visit their friends and families, and the remaining 10 percent were on business travel.
Interestingly enough, business travel is down significantly by seven percent while the other segment numbers increased. This is likely because business travelers to Colorado spent more than business travelers to the typical destination ($431 compared to $404 nationally). We assume that many large companies chose to find less expensive destinations for their meetings and retreats.
However, the money businesswomen and men spent per person in Colorado is $50 less than the typical spend per person for other segments. People visiting friends or family spent an average of only $302 per person, while the highest spending segment (to no surprise) were people on ski trips who spent $1,248 per person on average.
Although people tend to spend more on their vacation here than other destinations in the U.S., many will continue to come back. According to satisfaction ratings, Colorado appears to be delivering an “outstanding product” to our visitors. Three out of four visitors went so far as to agree strongly that they would, “really enjoy visiting Colorado again”.
How many of them, like so many of us, will decide to extend their stay for good?
What made you choose to visit Colorado, or what made you decide to call Colorado your “forever home”? Was it the mountains, your friends and family that already lived here, the weather, or a combination? Discuss with us in the comments below. We want to know what you think is Colorado’s most appealing feature!