Colorado Springs tourism up by 14 percent

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Tourism in the Pikes Peak region continues to boom each year.

“The secret’s out. The people who have come here know that it’s a great place to vacation, but we just keep making lists and getting a lot of attention here,” said Chelsy Offutt, director of communications at the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to the bureau, tourism in the Pikes Peak region was up more than 14 percent last year. Compare that to the 7 percent drop in visitors Colorado saw across the state in 2016.

“Spending from tourists here in the Pikes Peak region is really integral to our economy. It’s the third largest employer and $63 per second is pumped into our local economy by tourists,” Offutt said.

Offutt said all that money goes into the general fund, which helps to pay for road maintenance and first responders. And when tourism is up, it helps the local economy by providing more than 1,700 jobs.

“We get a Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, which is a snapshot of local hotels, bed and breakfasts within the region, of an idea of how many people are filling these hotel rooms and what the room rate is. And we just saw a 19-year high in our most recent report in occupancy,” Offutt said.

So, how do they keep track of all the visitors? Through a tax.

“The lodgers and automobile rental tax is an additional tax on city hotel room overnights and rental cars. We are funded by two-thirds of that tax to help market the region. So, those numbers are really our best indication of how tourism is performing and that’s what’s at 14.79 percent year to date, 2016 over 2015,” Offutt said.

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