Glenwood records strong summer tourist season
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Another strong month for city of Glenwood Springs retail sales and overnight stays in August topped off what, based on those indicators anyway, was a better summer tourism season for Glenwood compared to last year.
Retail sales in the city were up 6.42 percent for August compared to the same month last year, according to the city’s August sales tax report, which was released this week.
The city brought in $1,288,076 in sales taxes for the month, up from $1,210,333 in August 2011. Year to date, retail sales are up 6.5 percent compared to the same eight-month period last year.
Through the traditional summer tourist season months of June, July and August, sales were up in Glenwood Springs an average of 4.1 percent over last summer.
Likewise, the city’s accommodations (lodging) tax was up 14.5 percent for the same three-month period, including a 17.5 percent increase in August compared to the same month last year.
“This is all a good indication that Glenwood Springs is coming back strong, and tourism really helped bolster our economy in the last few months,” said Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
The chamber handles tourism marketing for the city using revenue from the 2.5 percent accommodations tax.
“It also points up the fact that Glenwood Springs is an affordable destination, not only for families, but for young couples and retirees as well,” Langer said.
Ken Murphy, Glenwood Adventure Co. owner, noted that the summer of 2012 also marked the return of a particular visitor who had been less visible in recent years, out-of-state tourists.
“It was nice to see that out-of-state market back,” Murphy said. “It was really noticeable this year, compared to the middle of the recession, how out-of-state business really picked up.”
Overall, Murphy said it was a good season for his three-year-old business. Glenwood Adventure offers a variety of activities, from whitewater and guided fishing trips to ATV and horseback riding tours.
Murphy said a lot of that success dovetailed with some of the newer attractions Glenwood Springs had to offer this year, such as the new Cliffhanger roller coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
“These are all positive signs for Glenwood,” he said.
According to the July Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, the most recent one available, hotel and motel rooms included in the RMLR database were 86 percent occupied on average for that month.
The report does not give a year-over-year comparison, but Langer said that was a higher occupancy rate than for July 2011.
Year to date, lodging occupancy in Glenwood Springs has remained at 57.7 percent on average, compared to 52.6 percent in 2011. The average daily room rate for the year is also up about 2 percent, from $101.18 last year to $103.29 this year.
“I do think our value is appreciated by a number of people who choose to visit and who come back,” Langer said.
The increase in out-of-state visitors this year “speaks well to the area economy, as well as the regional and state economy,” Langer said. “People are also not being held back by gas prices and things like that.”
On the retail sales front, a sector-by-sector breakdown for the year to date indicates gains over last year in 12 of 14 categories, according to the city’s sales tax comparisons report for January through August.
The apparel and accessories sector is up nearly 55 percent this year compared to last year, largely driven by the opening of the new Ross Dress for Less store in the Glenwood Springs Mall in March.
Sales of building materials and supplies is also up 5 percent for the year to date, as are sales at food stores (4.24 percent), eating and drinking establishments (5.49 percent), furniture/home furnishings (3.88 percent), and automotive/service stations (12.4 percent).
However, the closing this summer of two larger retail outlets at the mall, Kmart and Staples, is perhaps reflected in two other retail categories.
The largest single category, general merchandise sales, is still up for the year, but only by 2.4 percent, the smallest of the sector gains. Miscellaneous retail sales are down 2.63 percent for the year to date.
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