The Mile High City attracted 12.2 million overnight visitors in 2008, the same as in 2007. However, boosted by the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and a strong convention year, these leisure and business travelers spent more money.  These results come from the Denver 2008 Travel Year report by Longwoods International. 

Conducted on behalf of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Longwoods report shows that Denver experienced a slight growth of 1 percent in overnight leisure travelers in 2008; however, these visitors spent 10 percent more than they did last year.  Business travel volume to Denver declined 2 percent in 2008; however, the DNC and a strong convention year accounted for 5 percent more money being spent, creating a new record of $940 million for business travel spending in 2008. 

Denver’s 2 percent drop in business travel was minor compared to an 11 percent national decline.  “Denver had its best convention year ever in 2008, which helped offset the huge national decline in business travel that occurred in the fourth quarter due to the economy,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER. 

 An additional 6.7 million people came to Denver on daytrips, accounting for another $368 million in spending.  Denver day trippers, who mostly originate from in-state, rose 10 percent in 2008.

Most of the growth in overnight visitors and spending came from “marketable” visitors – those visitors who could travel to any destination, but chose to visit Denver.  They accounted for 4.1 million visitors in 2008, up 3 percent from 2007 and the fifth straight year-over-year increase.  These visitors spent $1.1 billion in the city or 34 percent of all overnight visitor spending.  “‘Marketable’ visitors are important because they spent about $96 per person a day in 2008, considerably more than people coming to the city to visit friends or relatives at $48 a day, or daytrippers at $55 a day,” Scharf said.  These travelers were almost as “valuable” to the city as business travelers, who spent $102 per capita daily.

VISIT DENVER conducted the largest visitor marketing campaign in Denver’s history in 2008 with an integrated advertising campaign targeted at attracting regional, national, and fly-drive visitors in the key markets of Phoenix, Dallas, and Minneapolis.  “We were very pleased that through our marketing efforts, we have shown real success in increasing the number of visitors from Phoenix.  Three years ago, Phoenix was the seventh largest out-of-state urban source for Denver visitors; in 2008, they were second,” Scharf said.


Some success stories from the study:


·         The typical leisure party in 2008 was three adults and the average length of stay was 3.5 nights.  Denver has seen a steady increase in the past four years in length of stay, the reverse of a national trend which is seeing shorter vacations.


·         In all areas:  business travel, leisure travel and “marketable visitors,” Denver outperformed the national averages in 2008.  While other destinations saw total visitation numbers tumble, Denver maintained overnight visitor count at 12.2 million, the same as the record set in 2007. 


·         Denver’s business visitors declined 2 percent, while the nationwide drop was 11 percent.


·         Denver’s “marketable” visitors increased 3 percent while nationwide “marketable” travel was completely flat.  This was the fifth straight year for Denver to see an increase in “marketable” visitors.


·         Total visitor spending was up 9 percent to $3.1 billion, the most ever spent in a single year.


·         Denver’s image improved in 2008, continuing a trend over the past several years.  A total of 65 percent of recent visitors “agreed strongly” or “somewhat” with the overall measure that Denver is a place they would “really enjoy visiting again,” up from 62 percent who responded this way in 2007.


·         Compared to 2007, in 2008 Denver was perceived more positively by visitors as offering: affordable dining and accommodations, unique local cuisine, excellent vacation value, great nightlife and entertainment, and excellent museums and galleries.



Findings:  Longwoods Denver 2008


                                                                        2008                                        2007


Total Overnight trips to Denver:                 2.5 million business                2.6 million

                                                                        9.7 million pleasure               9.6 million

                                                                        12.2 million total                  12.2 million


Total Day Trips to Denver                           6.7 million                               6.1 million


Total Spending (Overnight Visitors):          $3.10 billion                            $2.86 billion

                        Accommodations                   $1,011 million                         $939 million

                        Eating/Drinking                    $794 million                            $715 million

                        Retail                                      $463 million                            $458 million

                        Transportation                      $607 million                            $600 million

                        Recreation                              $230 million                            $206 million


Total Spending (Day Visitors):                    $0.37 billion                            $0.33 billion



Average Daily Expenditure:

            Business traveler                               $102 a day                              $104 a day

            Marketable traveler                          $96 a day                                $93 a day

            Visiting friends/relatives                   $48 a day                                $38 a day

            Day Visitor                                         $55 a day                                $55 a day



States sending overnight leisure                   Urban areas sending overnight 

visitors to Denver (apart from                     leisure visitors to Denver

Colorado itself)

(in order)                                                        (in order)


California                                                        Colorado Springs-Pueblo

Texas                                                               Los Angeles

Florida                                                             Phoenix

Nebraska                                                         New York City

Wyoming                                                        Kansas City

Arizona                                                           Salt Lake City

Missouri                                                          Grand Junction-Montrose

Iowa                                                                Dallas-Ft. Worth

Arkansas                                                         San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose

Kansas                                                             Albuquerque-Santa Fe



Top Attractions Visited in 2008


Overall                                                Paid Admission

16th Street Mall                                   Denver Zoo

Cherry Creek Shopping District         Colorado Rockies

Denver Zoo                                         Denver’s Downtown Aquarium

Castle Rock Factory Outlets               Denver Museum of Nature & Science

LoDo Historic District                        Denver Art Museum

Larimer Square                                    Colorado History Museum

Coors Brewery                                    Children’s Museum of Denver

Colorado Rockies                               Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Colorado State Capitol                       Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver’s Downtown Aquarium         Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park





About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau

Celebrating 100 years of promoting the Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes.  Tourism is the second-largest industry in Denver, generating $3.1 billion in annual spending in 2008, while supporting 65,000 jobs. For more information on Denver call 800-2-DENVER or visit Denver’s official Web site at     


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With press or photo inquiries, please contact:

Rich Grant: (303) 571-9450 or

Jen Elving: (303) 571-9451