DENVER – VISIT DENVER, The Convention and Visitors Bureau, introduced the Denver Tourism Roadmap today, a year-long study designed to maintain responsible tourism growth, and the economic impact that comes with it, in a way that will benefit both visitors and residents. The report was released to more than 800 political, business, community and tourism leaders at VISIT DENVER’s Annual Partnership Meeting in the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
“Tourism has become one of the largest industries in Colorado, and Denver is a travel hot spot right now with 10 straight years of record visitor growth,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER. “It’s a huge economic driver for our city that calls for a strategic roadmap to ensure we grow wisely and remain competitive well into the future.”
The Denver Tourism Roadmap was created through a community-wide process whereby tourism experts studied competitive cities, interviewed elected officials, surveyed more than 1,000 residents, visitors and meeting planners, met with local cultural and tourism officials, and evaluated worldwide tourism industry trends. The resulting plan identified key tourism goals with more than 70 initiatives to be achieved over the next decade.
“The Tourism Roadmap was developed with the approach that tourism doesn’t just happen, and a world-class visitor or convention experience should reflect the welcoming spirit of our community and begin the moment a visitor steps foot in our city,” said Scharf. “The plan also offers a vision for smart tourism growth to ensure that Denver remains a fantastic place to visit while enhancing quality of life for our residents.”
Additionally, there are many other planning initiatives underway or recently completed in Denver. The recommendations contained within the Roadmap are intended to leverage, complement, and enhance critically important elements within these other planning initiatives.
The study, ratified by the 39-member VISIT DENVER board of directors, identifies six key goals to elevate Denver’s status as a premier tourism destination:
- Expand Meetings & Convention Business and Infrastructure – Plan for priority infrastructure projects to enable Denver to achieve its optimal potential in meetings and conventions.
- Attract Visitor-Driven Events – Ensure a mix of demand generating events throughout the year that are supported by the community.
- Create World-Class Attractions and Services – Initiate a destination development strategy to support existing experiences and create new, original tourism concepts.
- Enhance Connectivity and Mobility – Provide enhanced intermodal connections for visitors to get to and move around Denver.
- Improve Downtown Visitor Experiences – Ensure the downtown is vibrant, safe and inviting for visitors.
- Strengthen Destination Branding – Deliver a brand experience for Denver that is authentic and unique.
Actions are already in motion to achieve a number of the goals identified in the plan, but some of the more visionary elements of the Roadmap will require longer-term collaboration and support mechanisms.
One of the more tangible elements of implementation will start in the coming weeks with the City of Denver and VISIT DENVER taking steps toward putting a team in place to oversee the expansion of the Colorado Convention Center. The convention center expansion is considered to be a key priority in the Tourism Roadmap since the meeting and convention business is a major contributor to downtown and metro Denver’s strong hotel market. With more than 4,400 new hotel rooms in development this year, Denver experienced an 86 percent increase in new hotel construction from 2015 to 2016.
Many key industry indicators point toward a continued upward trajectory for Denver tourism. Frequent positive news stories reinforce and enhance Denver’s brand as a top place to live and visit including a recent U.S. News & World Report feature that ranked Denver as the number one city to live in the U.S.
Denver International Airport remains the country’s sixth busiest airport and continues to expand the city’s connectivity throughout the U.S. and abroad. Planning is already underway for Denver to host the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW in 2018, the largest domestic-based international travel marketplace in the U.S. and considered to be the Super Bowl of the travel industry. Research has indicated that cities who host IPW generate an additional 1.06 million international visitors within three years as well as a $1.6 billion increase in tourism spending. And, each year, Denver is consistently considered among the top meeting and convention destinations in the U.S.
In 2015, The Mile High City welcomed 16.4 million overnight visitors, surpassing the year prior by one million visitors and establishing a new visitor spending record of $5 billion while supporting 55,000 jobs. Visitor spending saves every metro Denver household nearly $500 annually in taxes.
The complete Denver Tourism Roadmap can be accessed online at www.DenverTourismRoadmap.com