Rafting business has huge impact on Glenwood economy | PostIndependent.com
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Rafting business has huge impact on Glenwood economy

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent
ALL |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” When James Harris has family or friends come for a visit, he typically makes reservations at Whitewater Rafting LLC for a rafting trip.

“Whenever family is in from out of town, we try and do this,” Harris said. “This is probably our fourth or fifth time going.”

Harris has lived in Glenwood for eight years, and once again, Thursday morning Harris found himself with his wife and two kids floating down the mighty Colorado River in a raft with six out-of-town visitors.



“It’s the locals that bring the tourists to town. That is the majority of our business,” said co-owner of Whitewater Rafting LLC, Susi Larson.

Larson estimated that Whitewater sees a pretty even split between tourists and locals that take rafting trips. She said that the majority of the business they see comes from the front range.



The rafting industry in Glenwood Springs accounts for between $6 and $7 million each year, according to vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Kate Collins. The city of Glenwood takes in an estimated $17 million in indirect expenditures from those who come to town and spend money on other things like lodging, shopping, dinning out, or rafting, Collins said.

Collins also estimated that of the $33 million the city received in 2007 through the accommodations tax, approximately $15-20 million is from those who come to Glenwood for the recreational activities such as rafting. However, Collins said that the Glenwood Chamber doesn’t track these such of statistics themselves and her estimates were provided by her experience in the industry and the information provided by independent reports.

According to the Colorado River Outfitters Association’s report on Commercial River Use, more than 539,000 people took rafting trips last year throughout the state. That total was a 5.7 percent increase over 2006. Collectively, those visitors spent $153 million statewide during the period of their rafting trip, the report stated. That total was a 10 percent increase over 2006 as well.

Larson has seen the increase in numbers over the years.

“It’s increased every year for the past 20 years,” Larson said. “Basically, besides 2002, it’s gone up each year.”

And she expects this year to keep pace, especially with the high water levels.

“Hopefully it will,” Larson said. “The water will be better than it’s been. It will be more fun to ride, but as far as numbers, hopefully there will be more. They will surely have a better time.”

This story appeared in Tuesday’s Inside Business.


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