Regional: Colorado tourism visitation and visitor spending set all time records in 2014 |

Regional: Colorado tourism visitation and visitor spending set all time records in 2014

Fat tires abound near Fruita, a popular mountain biking destination
Matthew Inden |

DENVER – The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) announced that Colorado set all-time records in terms of visitor volume, visitor expenditures and tax revenue in 2014, welcoming 71.3 million visitors to the state who spent $18.6 billion and generated $1.1 billion in tax revenue. This is the fourth consecutive year the CTO has seen record-setting growth. The announcement came as part of the release of several studies detailing visitation and spending in Colorado, as well as the effectiveness and impact of the state’s ‘Come To Life’ marketing campaign.

“These outstanding results prove once again that tourism is one of the top drivers of positive economic impact and job growth in Colorado,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Our state is privileged to have so many innovative tourism-related businesses and hard-working employees who create experiences that truly set Colorado apart on the national and international stage. It is important that we continue to invest in our tourism industry and showcase why Colorado is such a special place for travelers from across the globe.”

Travel Expenditures Reach Record Levels in 2014

Highlights from Colorado Travel Impacts 2014, Dean Runyan & Associates

Total direct travel spending in Colorado in 2014 reached $18.6 billion with 66 percent of that total coming from visitors who stayed overnight in paid accommodations (hotels, motels, rented condos, campgrounds, RV parks and bed & breakfasts).

This record-spending figure represents an increase of 7.4 percent over 2013, significantly outpacing the national growth rate of 4.5 percent in visitor expenditures by 65 percent. Since 1996, visitor-generated spending has increased at an average annual rate of 4.2 percent, earnings by 3.13 percent, and local and state tax revenues by 5.3 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Underscoring the importance of tourism to Colorado, the tourism industry generated $1.1 billion in local and state tax revenues in 2014, surpassing the billion-dollar mark for the first time ever. This represented approximately $215 of tax revenue per person in the state or $860 for a family of four. Without tourism, each resident would pay $215 more in taxes.

Visitor spending also benefitted Colorado’s local economy by spurring job creation. The tourism industry directly supported 155,300 jobs, a 3.3 percent increase over 2013, with earnings of more than $5.1 billion in 2014, a 7.1 percent increase over 2013.

“Our 2014 research paints a bright picture of the value of tourism to Colorado and the major impact it has on the state’s economy,” said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “The Colorado Tourism Office’s marketing efforts continue to attract visitors from across the globe who are spending more and staying longer, thereby driving additional tax revenues and creating new job opportunities for our residents.”

Colorado’s Ad Campaign Spurs Incremental Travel, $2.6 Billion in Economic Impact

Highlights from April 2014 through March 2015 Marketing Effectiveness Research, Strategic Marketing & Research Insights (SMARI)

Colorado continued its award-winning ‘Come To Life’ marketing campaign and tracked results from April 2014 through March 2015. Working with Strategic Marketing & Research Insights (SMARI), the campaign demonstrated strong awareness and more importantly, generated significant incremental travel resulting in nearly 1.7 million trips to Colorado.

Given the number of trips the marketing was able to influence and the level of spending by those visitors, there was $2.6 billion in economic impact for April 2014 through March 2015. The campaign also resulted in outstanding return on investment (ROI) for the Colorado Tourism Office, with $361 in travel spending for every $1 invested in paid media, up from $344 in the last marketing year. Colorado’s ‘Come To Life’ campaign was enhanced by a nationally focused public relations and social media program.

“The Colorado Tourism Office has developed some of the most compelling advertising in the DMO arena and consumers continue to positively respond,” said Executive Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Research Insights, Denise Miller. “The ROI increased again this year as Colorado expanded its national presence with positive results. The current advertising campaign creates a personal connection and inspires travelers as they consider vacation options – and the results are evident – more visitation and increased interest in future visitation.”

Record Visitation; Marketable Trips Reach All-Time High

Highlights from Colorado Travel Year Report 2014, Longwoods International

In terms of visitation, Colorado welcomed a record 71.3 million visitors in 2014 up 10.4 percent from 2013. The number of visitors coming to Colorado on marketable leisure trips totaled an all-time high of 16.1 million, a 7 percent increase over 2013. Marketable leisure trips are those trips influenced by marketing and exclude visiting friends and relatives (VFR). Overnight trips reached a record 33.6 million trips, an increase of 8 percent over 2013.

“Colorado significantly outpaced the nation in travel and tourism growth in 2014,” said Senior Vice President of Longwoods International, Michael Erdman. “In 2014 more people came to Colorado from outside of the state and the immediate western region than was the case in 2013 – back to levels last seen more than a decade ago. This points directly to the success of the Colorado Tourism Office’s strategy of focusing marketing dollars out of state, luring visitors who stay longer and spend more.”

To view the full reports for each of the studies, please click on the links below:

• Colorado Travel Impacts, Dean Runyan & Associates

• Colorado Travel Year Report 2014, Longwoods International


Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 25 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.

For more information or a copy of the 2015 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit or call 1-800 COLORADO. Follow Colorado on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, Flickr,Tumblr and YouTube.

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