Denver, CO (June 17, 2015) - Denver set new tourism records in 2014 with visitor spending increasing a whopping 15 percent over 2013 to $4.6 billion. The numbers are according to the Longwoods International annual visitor profile study, a report commissioned by VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Denver outpaced national averages across the board and saw a record number of overnight visitors in 2014, with 15.4 million vacationers and business travelers coming to the city, up 10 percent over 2013, itself a record year. Much of the increase came from "marketable" leisure travelers. These are defined as people who could travel to any destination, but specifically chose to visit Denver. "Marketable" visitors increased 9 percent in 2014 to a record high of 6 million visitors.
"Marketable" visitors are more desirable because they spend an average of $117 a day, versus vacationers visiting friends and relatives, who spend just $70 a day. Business travelers spend the most at $138 a day.
"Denver had an unprecedented assortment of overnight drivers in 2014, and it's great to see the numbers bear that out," said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, the city's official tourism marketing arm. "The city had blockbuster cultural exhibitions like Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed at Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century at the Denver Art Museum; we had our best convention year ever with nearly 430,000 delegates and huge meetings over normally soft dates like July 4th; plus we had some great bonus drivers like two Broncos home playoff games in January and the FIL Lacrosse World Championships in July. When you combine all that with our year-round tourism attractions, it adds up to one great year."
"Tourism and conventions are competitive industries. VISIT DENVER continues to make investments in sales and marketing for both leisure visitors and conventions to keep Denver top of mind and relevant. The Longwoods study allows us to see that since 2005 when voters approved more marketing dollars for Denver, we have seen a 65 percent increase in the number of leisure visitors coming to our city," Scharf said.
According to the report:
• Denver welcomed a record 15.4 million overnight visitors in 2014, up 10 percent over 2013. Nationally, total overnight trips increased 3 percent.
• The number of people visiting friends and relatives in Denver in 2014 increased 13 percent from 2013 and ahead of the 2 percent growth of people visiting friends and relatives throughout the U.S.
• The number of people coming to Denver for conventions and business travel in 2014 was 2.4 million, up 5 percent over 2013; business travel was up 2 percent in the U.S. in 2014.
• "Marketable" visitors to Denver increased 9 percent in 2014 to a record high of 6 million visitors, versus only a 5 percent increase nationally.
• Overnight visitors spent a record $4.6 billion in 2014, 15 percent more than 2013, with $3.6 billion spent by leisure visitors (up 12 percent over 2013) and $1 million spent by business travelers (up 20 percent over 2013).
• All five of the major business sectors connected to travel and tourism saw an increase in spending in 2014. Denver visitors spent more than $1.3 billion in Denver hotels and other lodging establishments, and $913 million on food and beverages.
• Expenditures by visitors on gas, car rentals and other local transportation purchases topped $1.3 billion. Purchases at retail stores were $579 million, while vacationers and business travelers spent $398 million on the city's paid attractions and other recreational and sightseeing activities.
• Another way of looking at expenditures is to factor in how much each type of visitor spends per day. On average in 2014, the biggest spenders were business travelers, who spent $138 per day; followed by marketable leisure visitors who spent $117 per day, then followed by people visiting friends and relatives, who spent $70 per day. Each of those figures increased over 2013.
• Vacationers spent an average of 3.2 nights in the city in 2014, the same as 2013.
• Denver's image (what visitors thought of the city) improved year over year also. Nearly 8 in 10 visitors agreed strongly that Denver is a place they would "really enjoy visiting again," compared to 7 in 10 in 2013.
The top states sending vacationers to Denver in 2014, apart from Colorado itself, were:
• New York
• New Mexico
The top cities from outside of Colorado sending leisure visitors to Denver in 2014 were:
• Los Angeles
• New York City
• Albuquerque/Santa Fe
• Dallas/Fort Worth
• San Francisco
• Washington, D.C.
• Las Vegas
Shopping and entertainment were popular tourist activities in Denver in 2014. The top shopping and entertainment centers visited by non-Colorado residents were (in order):
• 16th Street Mall
• Cherry Creek
• LoDo "Lower Downtown" Historic District
• Denver Pavilions
• Larimer Square
• Outlets at Castle Rock
• FlatIron Crossing Mall
• Park Meadows Retail Resort
The top paid and free attractions in Denver visited by non-Colorado residents in 2014 were (in order):
• Denver Zoo
• Denver Art Museum
• Denver Botanic Gardens
• Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
• Denver Museum of Nature & Science/IMAX
• Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
• Downtown Aquarium
• Colorado Railroad Museum
• Colorado Rockies
• Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Top 3 Free Admission
• Coors Brewery
• Colorado State Capitol
• Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre