“Marketable” visitors saw an even larger increase, jumping 11 percent in 2007, the second year in a row with a double digit increase.  “Marketable” visitors are important because they generally stay in commercial accommodations and spend more money than other visitors.   “Marketable” visitors are leisure travelers who can vacation anywhere, but chose to visit Denver.  They are the visitors most susceptible to advertising and marketing efforts.

            “The results are gratifying because for the second year in a row, we are seeing that Denver’s marketing efforts are having a significant impact on the number of visitors coming to the city,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.  2007 was the second year that the Bureau had increased marketing dollars to promote Denver thanks to a one percent increase in the lodger’s tax for tourism promotion, approved by Denver voters in 2005.

            For the first time in 2007, Longwoods also measured the volume and value associated with day travel in the state. In 2007, there were 6.1 million day trips to Denver, mostly originating instate.  These daytrippers added another $330 million in spending.


Some results of the study:


  • In 2007, Denver overnight visitors reached a record 12.2 million, up 4 percent over 2006 and equal to the national visitor growth rate. Overnight leisure travel to the city increased 5 percent, from 9.1 million to 9.6 million visitors. Business travelers fell 2 percent to 2.6 million, a smaller decline than the national 4 percent drop in business travelers.


  • For the first time since 1992, Denver’s overall market share climbed above 1 percent to 1.1 percent in 2007.


  • The “high value” segment of “marketable” leisure travelers saw the second straight year of double digit growth, an 11 percent increase to reach a record 4 million visitors.  This impressive increase was nearly double the national growth rate of 6 percent in this segment and significantly ahead of the state’s 8 percent growth. “Marketable” visitors are those most affected by advertising and more likely to stay in commercial lodging and spend more money than those visiting friends and relatives.


  • Travel and tourism spending in Denver also reached a record high of $2.9 billion in 2007, a 6 percent increase over 2006. The biggest increase in spending was seen in the accommodation section.  Expenditures increased 17 percent to $939 million compared to $800 million in 2006 reflecting increased hotel inventory in Denver, as well as higher occupancy and room rates. 


  • Retail spending rose nearly 9 percent in 2007 to $458 million.  Spending on recreation and entertainment, as well as food and beverage, increased marginally year over year, while local transportation (including gas and rental cars) saw a 6 percent decline to $538 million. 


  • Business travelers were the biggest spenders, generating $104 per person per day, followed by “marketable” leisure visitors, who spent $91 per person per day. Visitors staying with friends and relatives accounted for only $38 per person per day.


  • In 2007, seven in 10 visitors to Denver traveled 500 miles or more to reach the city. While this is nearly double the mileage traveled to the average U.S. destination, it is down somewhat from 2006, showing a shift towards more local, short haul trips.


  • In 2007, seven in 10 business visitors to Denver arrived by air – much higher than the national average. About four in 10 rented a car. 


  • Planning times for Denver travelers is shortening. In 2007 one in three travelers planned their trips 3 months or more in advance, compared to 50% in 2006.


  • In 2007, 60% of Denver’s leisure visitors came from the West, consisting of the Mountain, West North Central and West South Central census divisions. The Northeast contributed just 6% of all visitors.



States sending visitors to Denver were (in order): 


1.         California

2.         Texas

3.         Arizona

4.         Kansas

5.         Florida

6.         Illinois

7.         Nebraska

8.         Minnesota

9.         Oklahoma

10.       New Mexico



Top urban areas sending significant leisure visitors to Denver in 2007 were:


1.                  Phoenix

2.                  Chicago

3.                  San Francisco

4.                  Los Angeles

5.                  Washington D.C.

6.                  Houston

7.                  Dallas-Fort Worth

8.                  Atlanta

9.                  Minneapolis

10.              Salt Lake City



Most popular sights, attractions and events in 2007 were:




1.         Cherry Creek Shopping District

2.         16th Street Mall

3.         LoDo Historic District

4.         Colorado Mills Shopping District

5.         Castle Rock Factory Outlets

6.         Denver Zoo

7.         Park Meadows Retail Resort

8.         Larimer Square

9.         Denver Art Museum

10.       Colorado Rockies


In 2007, the most popular paid attractions were:


1.         Denver Zoo

2.         Denver Art Museum

3.         Colorado Rockies

4.         Red Rocks Amphitheatre

5.         Colorado History Museum

6.         Buffalo Bill’s Grave & Museum

7.         Denver Museum of Nature & Science

8.         Downtown Aquarium

9.         Denver Broncos

10.       Colorado Railroad Museum


  • The Internet has now surpassed word of mouth and personal experience as the most valuable resource for Denver travelers. According to Longwoods, Denver visitors are more likely to use the Internet than the U.S. norm, with 54% of Denver visitors using the Internet to plan their trips, versus 41% nationally.  In addition, 53% are booking all or part of their trip online, compared to 38% nationally. 


  • In 2007, the average number of nights spent in Denver rose to 3.5, up from 3.3 in 2006 and 2.9 in 2005. The percent of total time in Colorado spent in Denver also rose to 75%, up from 65% in 2006 and 58% in 2005. The percent of the entire trip spent in Denver also rose to 58% compared to 54% in 2006 and 47% in 2005.


  • The number of people combining business and leisure trips climbed dramatically in 2007 with 48% of business travelers adding a pleasure component to their trip, compared to only 33% in 2006. The average business traveler stayed at least two extra nights, an average of 1.4 nights in Denver and 1.2 nights somewhere else in Colorado.  Compared to the national average, business trips to Denver were more likely to include a spouse and/or children.


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