A strong ski season with plenty of snow and a stepped-up marketing push by city tourism officials likely played a part in an average 14 percent increase in lodging sales in Glenwood Springs during December and January.
According to the January report for the city’s 2.5 percent accommodations tax, Glenwood Springs hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and other types of short-term lodging netted $46,160 worth of tax revenues to support the city’s tourism marketing efforts.
That represented an 11.9 percent increase over the same month in 2013, and translates to more than $1.8 million in lodging revenues for the city’s hotel industry for the month.
December numbers were slightly better in terms of tax generation, at $46,351, according to the city’s year-end accommodations tax report for 2013. Lodging revenues were up 16.4 percent in December compared to the same month in 2012.
“Everybody I’ve talked to in the tourism industry has been positive about the growth we’ve seen this winter,” said Lisa Langer, tourism marketing director for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, which handles tourism promotions for the city.
“The great snowfall we’ve had all winter probably contributed to most of that,” she said. “We have also done some extra advertising to increase stays during our shoulder seasons and through the winter, since summer is usually our biggest season.”
Glenwood Springs lodges also saw a big spill-over effect during the Winter X Games in Aspen in late January. Most downvalley lodges were booked solid through that weekend, Langer said.
“Overall, it has been a solid winter season and we’re looking forward to an excellent spring break,” she said.
The city’s accommodations tax is in addition to the regular sales tax rate charged on overnight stays, and goes to support tourism-marketing efforts as well as to fund special events and other tourism-oriented activities.
The strong lead-in to the winter season for lodges did not translate to strong general retail sales in Glenwood Springs during January, however.
Sales were down nearly 6 percent for January, compared to the same month in 2013, including a 17 percent drop in general merchandise sales and an 8.6 percent decline in food store sales, according to the January report.
For all of 2013, retail sales in Glenwood Springs, as measured by the city’s 3.5 percent sales tax rate, were up about 2 percent compared to 2012, including a 1.5 percent increase during the height of the holiday shopping season in December.
According to Glenwood Springs Finance Director Michael Harman, reporting of food store sales in January is skewed, however, due to the way grocery stores report sales.
“Their systems are designed so that they have 13 filings per year instead of the 12-month norm,” Harman said.
Therefore, a spike in January 2013 for one grocery vendor was due to its two filings that month, which made the January 2014 comparison much lower, he said.
“This also explains why January of 2013 showed an 8 percent increase while the next three months in 2013 were down,” Harman also said.
The drop in general merchandise sales this past January also may have related to the computer security breach at Target stores that was widely reported during the holiday season, Harman said.
Back on the tourism side of things, Langer said several special events, conferences and special tours are being planned for May and early June that should help attract people to Glenwood Springs before the height of the summer tourist season hits.
Among them will be the second in the new adult men’s and women’s Colorado Mountain Soccer Tournament Series, the Mount Sopris Cup, at Gates Soccer Park on May 16-18, and the Glenwood Springs Soccer Club’s youth soccer tournament at Gates on Memorial Day weekend. A lacrosse coaches conference is also being planned in Glenwood Springs for the weekend of May 31, Langer said.
Earlier in May, local tourism officials have arranged for two familiarization tours, one for the Rocky Mountain Guides Association and another for Project Healing Waters out of Fort Carson, which brings in wounded soldiers to go fly fishing, Langer said.
And, the National Association of Sports History will be having its annual convention in Glenwood Springs the last weekend in May, she said.