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City takes a flier on ad push at DIA

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association will reach tourists coast to coast starting in April with a new promotional effort at Denver International Airport.”This is a new market for us,” said Lori Hogan, tourism marketing director for the chamber. “Typically, we’re not able to reach people beyond the Front Range. This will enable us to broaden our market.”Hogan’s comment comes at a time of year when Glenwood’s tourist-related businesses start looking forward to spring break and the summer.”We’re scratching our heads on where the summer will go,” said Larry MacDonald, general manager at the Hotel Colorado. “We’re hoping this year will be one of recovery and rebound.”Colorado’s tourism industry, including Glenwood’s, was hit hard last summer when wildfires swept through the state, keeping visitors away.Hogan said the chamber contracted with the Colorado Activity Center to distribute the city’s annual visitor’s guide magazine at Denver International Airport (DIA). With the new distribution point, the chamber is considering whether to increase the guide’s total circulation from the current 110,000 issues to 120,000.The chamber placed 1,300 guides at DIA last November as an experiment. “They went pretty quickly,” Hogan said.The guide, published each May, will be distributed on Concourse B. That’s where most travelers make connecting flights to Vail and Aspen.”People may not decide to come here this year, but they might next year,” Hogan said.Aspen and Vail typically attract more affluent visitors than Glenwood Springs, but that’s not the main reason the chamber is distributing the guide at DIA.”Some of those people are coming on business. Some could return with their families,” Hogan said.Hogan released the chamber’s 2002 Annual Report this week, and will present it to the Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday evening.The tourism side of the report contained few surprises for anyone who watched the hillsides west and north of Glenwood Springs explode in flames last June:-Accommodation tax collections were down 4.4 percent for 2002 compared to 2001. Collections for 2002 were approximately $493,000, according to a graph provided by Hogan. The 2.5 percent tax on lodging facilities funds the city’s $499,500 tourism advertising budget, which the chamber administers.-Average daily lodging occupancy rates were down from June through September 2002 compared to the same period in 2001. For the entire year, the average occupancy rate was 65.6 percent, compared to 63.9 percent in 2001.”It is likely that hotels lowered their rates during the second half of the year to make up for the slow period,” Hogan’s report said. “Based on this analysis, occupancy rates did not drop at the same rate as accommodation tax receipts during the second half of the year.”While firefighters put out wildfires around Glenwood Springs last summer, Hogan and others at the chamber worked to put out word their city wasn’t going up in smoke and it’s still a great place to visit.Part of the Chamber’s strategy was to send video press releases to newspapers and television networks showing plenty of blues skies and smiles a few days after the fires. For spring break season, which starts this weekend, Hogan said the chamber bought radio commercials on Denver stations KOA and KHOW for March 20-21.Up at Sunlight Mountain Resort, general manager Tom Jankovsky said group bookings, which make up about 20 percent of the ski area’s March business, are down compared to last year.”We figure it’s the economy … that or the war,” Jankovsky said.At the Hotel Colorado, MacDonald said March is shaping up about the same as last year, which he called “flat.”MacDonald said he’s hoping for snow to ensure good spring skiing, and a wet April and May to reduce summer wildfire danger.MacDonald said his primary concerns are a struggling U.S. economy that can cause a drop in tourism, and the possibility of a war with Iraq.Approximately 80 percent of the Hotel Colorado’s guests live on the Front Range, MacDonald said, so the hotel will increase its advertising in that market. “We also target the Western Slope,” MacDonald said.While there is uncertainty over the U.S. economy and war with Iraq and fears of wildfire, one thing is for sure. The Glenwood Caverns and Adventure Park will open this spring, which will boost the local tourist economy by attracting visitors year ’round.”This should be a very exciting year for us,” MacDonald said. “The caverns will be a major selling point for everyone.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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