Keeping with the global trend o booming tourism, Denver announced this week that it set new visitation and spending records in 2013. A 12 percent increase in spending over 2012 drove the total over $4 billion or the first time, according the Longwoods International annual visitor profile study, a report commissioned by VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.
That includes more than $1 billion spent on lodging and $796 million on food and beverages — and the survey suggests visitors to the Mile High City were happier than ever, with the majority saying they'd return for another visit.
Denver also saw a record number of overnight visitors in 2013, with 14 million vacationers and business travelers coming to the city, up 3 percent over 2012. The increase came mainly from “marketable” leisure travelers who chose Denver on a discretionary basis. The total number of those highly valued visitors increased 13 percent to 5.5 million in 2013.
“Marketable” visitors are more desirable because they spend an average of $113 a day, versus vacationers visiting friends and relatives, who spend just $68 a day. Business travelers spend the most at $126 a day.
“Tourism and conventions don’t just happen. The Longwoods study allows us to see that since 2005 when voters approved more marketing dollars for Denver, we have seen a 48 percent increase in the number of leisure visitors coming to our city,” saidRichard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, the city’s official tourism marketing arm.
According to the report:
- Denver welcomed a record 14 million overnight visitors in 2013, up 3 percent over 2012.
- The number of people visiting friends and relatives in Denver in 2013 dropped 2 percent from 2012, mirroring a national trend that saw a 3 percent drop in people visiting friends and relatives throughout the U.S. The number of people coming to Denver for conventions and business travel in 2013 was flat with 2012; nationally, business travel was down 11 percent in the U.S. in 2013 versus 2012. “Marketable” visitors to Denver increased 13 percent in 2013 to a record high of 5.5 million visitors, versus only a 9 percent increase nationally.
- Overnight visitors spent a record $4 billion in 2013, 12 percent more than 2013, with $3.16 billion spent by leisure visitors (up 14 percent over 2012) and $845 million spent by business travelers (up 4 percent over 2012).
- All five of the major business sectors connected to travel and tourism saw an increase in spending in 2013. Denver visitors spent more than $1.1 billion in Denver hotels and other lodging establishments, and $796 million on food and beverages.
- Expenditures by visitors on gas, car rentals and other local transportation purchases topped $1.1 billion. Purchases at retail stores was $549 million, while vacationers and business travelers spent $373 million on the city’s paid attractions and other recreational and sightseeing activities.
- Another way of looking at expenditures is to factor in how long each type of visitor stays. On average, the biggest spenders are business travelers, who spent $368 per trip; followed by marketable leisure visitors who spent $293 per trip, then followed by people visiting friends and relatives, who spent $249.
- Vacationers spent an average of 3.2 nights in the city, down slightly from 3.4 nights in 2012. Business travelers stayed 3.8 nights, about the same as in recent years.
- Just under 3 in 10 leisure travelers were first-time visitors to Denver, about the same as last year. Marketable visitors were more likely to be “first-timers.”
- Colorado saw a 5 percent increase in visitors in 2013, attracting a record 27.1 million vacationers.
- Denver’s image (what visitors thought of the city) improved greatly in 2013. Just over 7 in 10 visitors agreed strongly that Denver is a place they would “really enjoy visiting again.”
- Denver’s image in 2013 scored higher than in 2012 for: ease of getting around; nightlife and entertainment scene; the sense of excitement; offering famous landmarks; the arts scene (including theatre, galleries and museums); and offering interesting festivals and events.
The top states sending vacationers to Denver in 2013, apart from Colorado itself, were:
- New Mexico
- New York
The top cities from outside of Colorado sending leisure visitors to Denver in 2013 were:
- Los Angeles
- Albuquerque-Santa Fe
- San Diego
- Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Minneapolis-St. Paul
- New York
Shopping and entertainment were popular tourist activities in Denver in 2013. The top 10 shopping and entertainment centers were (in order):
- 16th Street Mall
- “LoDo” Lower Downtown Historic District
- Cherry Creek Shopping Center/Cherry Creek North
- Outlets at Castle Rock
- Denver Pavilions
- Park Meadows Retail Resort
- Larimer Square
- Flatirons Crossing Mall
- Shops at Tabor Center
The top 15 paid and free attractions in Denver were (in order)
- Denver Zoo
- Colorado State Capitol
- Coors Brewery
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
- Denver Botanic Gardens
- Denver Art Museum
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science
- Colorado Rockies
- Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
- Downtown Aquarium
- U.S. Mint
- Buffalo Bill’s Museum & Grave
- Colorado Railroad Museum
- Butterfly Pavilion
- Denver Broncos