Energy pumps up lodging business | PostIndependent.com

Energy pumps up lodging business

Post Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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Gas workers and gas prices are contributing to continuing strong growth in business among Glenwood Springs lodging establishments this year.The city’s lodging tax revenues were up 26.6 percent in May over the previous year, bringing in $51,119. Year-to-date, they are up 21.6 percent and have generated $214,000 that is used to fund tourism promotion.Linda Stoltzfus, co-owner of America’s Best Value Inn in West Glenwood and lodging representative on the board of directors of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, said she believes at least some of the increase is resulting from employees in western Garfield County’s natural gas industry staying for extended periods in some Glenwood hotels. Those workers are combining with tourists to fill up many lodges, she said.She also said high gasoline prices are causing many tourists to stick closer to home, to Glenwood’s benefit.”Instead of going to Disney World, doing the Florida thing, they’re coming down to Glenwood Springs,” she said.Many are staying several nights to take in multiple area attractions, she said.

“It’s been a great summer, it’s been a great year. We’ve finally recovered from ’02, from the fires,” she said.Glenwood’s Coal Seam Fire in 2002, which destroyed 29 homes, combined with other 2002 Colorado wildfires to depress tourist numbers that year. While the city’s tourism industry took some time to recover, last year lodging tax revenues were up 10.5 percent over the previous year.Susi Larson, a partner in Whitewater Rafting in Glenwood, said business there has been on the upswing over past years.”We’re having a crazy-busy summer,” she said. “The hot weather brings people rafting and we’ve had plenty of that this year.”She said she has noticed that the town seems to be filled with people.But that doesn’t necessarily translate into an increase in business for all area attractions. Vicki Neer, co-owner of Canyon Bikes, which rents bikes and shuttles cyclists into Glenwood Canyon, said she hasn’t been seeing more tourists this year. She said one reason is that the number of local attractions continues to increase, creating more competition for the limited dollars tourists have available to spend.That’s particularly a problem when it’s costing people more to drive to Glenwood because of rising gas prices, she said.

High gas prices also force local attractions to have to charge more, Neer said. In her case, she’s had to hike the rates for shuttle trips, and pass on the increased cost to have items shipped to her business.”I wish there was a magical solution for that. Charging more money for customers isn’t great but we all have to do it,” she said.In such a climate, Neer wasn’t happy to hear that a survey showed public support for an activities tax to help fund parks and recreation facilities, possibly including a performing arts center.”To me that just takes more money out of the customer’s budget,” which means less money to spend on activities while in town, she said.Meanwhile, having energy workers staying in local lodges might not sound ideal from the perspective of local tourism businesses, but Neer said she has had relatives of those workers patronize Canyon Bikes, and some of the workers themselves have bought decommissioned rental bikes.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.comSales tax rebound also continuesGlenwood Springs’ broadest economic measure, sales tax revenue, also keeps on soaring this year.May revenues reached $1.15 million, a 35.2 percent increase over May 2005. Cumulative revenues this year through May are $5.3 million, up 38.2 percent over the same period last year.The increase is due in part to the opening of the Glenwood Meadows commercial development last fall. Some of it also is attributable to the Jan. 1 increase in the sales tax from 3.4 to 3.75 percent, following voter approval in November of a street projects tax hike.


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