Gas prices could fuel local tourism |

Gas prices could fuel local tourism

Post Independent Writer
Post Independent Photo / Jim Noelker The state's gas prices, which reached as high as $2.43 for premium grade Wednesday, shouldn't affect the area tourism season negatively, experts say.

By Ivy Vogel

Post Independent Staff

Here’s an interesting thought: The state’s ever-increasing gas prices might actually help area tourism.

Since last spring, regular unleaded gas prices in Glenwood Springs increased by 43 cents, and no one knows when the prices will decline, said Mary Greer, director of public relations and government affairs for AAA.

Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season, Greer said. “We may see some leveling off with gas prices, but we won’t know until after Memorial Day weekend.”

Travel volume is determined by the number of Americans traveling at least 50 miles from home. Greer predicts travel volume will increase 6 percent from last year.

So those increasing gas prices will cause some Colorado families to veto out-of-state vacation plans and opt for in-state destinations, Greer said.

For those who want to hug Mickey Mouse, this is bad. For the area economy, it’s good.

The tourism sector will benefit from high gas prices because the majority of tourists are from the Denver metropolitan area, Greer said.

When families are deciding how to cut costs, they might decide to make cheaper travel plans. Traveling to Glenwood from Denver takes a few hours compared to a road trip to Florida that takes more than 20 hours and added gasoline costs.

“If there aren’t any fires or any major events associated with the war that affect people’s decisions to travel here, tax revenue from tourism should be up about 5-6 percent,” said Lori Hogan, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

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Tourism is Glenwood’s largest industry. Last year, tourism brought $500,000 to Glenwood in tax revenue alone, Hogan said. Tourism tax revenue goes to the city. The chamber has a contract with the city and receives this tax revenue to help promote tourism in Glenwood.

Darla Kohring of Aurora said she continues to vacation in Glenwood because it’s a convenient day trip.

“I’m close enough that gas prices won’t affect my decision to come here,” Kohring said. “I might not go out of state, but I would still vacation in state.”

Although it’s impossible to predict the exact amount of impact tourism has on Glenwood’s economy, hotels, motels, restaurants and attractions create more than 30 percent of Glenwood’s total revenue, Hogan said. Without tourism Glenwood’s revenue wouldn’t be substantial enough to support the economy, Hogan said.

On holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, 65 to 75 percent of the Glenwood Brew Pub’s revenue is from tourists, said Corrie Gentry, the Pub’s front house manager.

“We’re going to have a really awesome summer because the gas prices keep a lot of people close to home,” Gentry said. “We’re already seeing record numbers.”

More than half of Glenwood tourists are from Colorado; 14 percent are from the Midwest; 5 percent are from Texas; and 5 percent are from Utah, Hogan said.

“We might lose some customers from far away,” Hogan said. “But it won’t stop those who are close to home.”

Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534

AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report for Glenwood Springs

Current: Reg. $2.174, Mid $2.32, Premium $2.43, Diesel $1.97

Tuesday: Reg. $2.17, Mid $2.32, Premium $2.43, Diesel $1.97

Month Ago: Reg. $1.987, Mid $2.125, Premium $2.22, Diesel $1.2

Year Ago: Reg. $1.74, Mid $1.86, Premium $1.945, Diesel $1.72

Highest Record Price: Regular Unleaded $2.174 5/25/04, Diesel $1.994 5/14/04

Gas prices throughout the nation range from $1.77 to $2.96, with some extreme differences.

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