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
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
(in order) (in order)
California Colorado Springs-Pueblo
Texas Los Angeles
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 VISITDENVER.com.
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