Colorado and Denver set new records for overall visitors, overnight visitation and visitor spending in 2010, according to a profile of Colorado and Denver visitors by research firm Longwoods International commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office and VISIT DENVER.

With a slower than anticipated post-recession recovery nationwide, Colorado bucked several national trends. 
    • Colorado remained the country’s top-ranked ski destination, with a 20 percent share of all overnight ski trips, an increase over 2009 (19.7 percent).
    • Colorado outperformed the national average for outdoor and city trip segments. Colorado saw record increases in total visitors, domestic overnight visitation in 2010. 
    • Colorado welcomed a record 55.1 million visitors in 2010, a 6.1 percent increase over 2009 and the highest total number ever reported. Of these, the state welcomed 28.9 million domestic overnight visitors, a five percent increase over 2009 and also a new record.
    • Colorado’s marketable trips in 2010 grew by four percent over 2009 to 13.8 million visits, setting a new record. Marketable trips are defined as travel that is influenced by marketing efforts and are not comprised of visitors who are visiting friends or relatives or business travelers.
    • Day trips to and within Colorado rose by nine percent in 2010 to 26.2 million trips, up from 24.2 million trips in 2009, another record number.
    • Tourism expenditures rose five percent over 2009 to $8.8 billion. This is an impressive number, given that aggregate spending by domestic visitors in Colorado in 2009 was down 11 percent over 2008.
    • Meanwhile, business travel to Colorado rose by three percent to 3.5 million trips, which was not on pace with the national growth, but represented a welcome improvement following the sharp decline in 2009.

“We were very excited to see record numbers in terms of overall visitors, domestic overnight visits and, most importantly, visitor spending in Colorado. It also reinforces the fact that we must be aggressive with funding our marketing efforts at a time when other states like Washington and Texas have had significant cuts in their overall marketing spend,” said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office.

According to the Denver 2010 Travel Year Report by Longwoods International, Denver’s tourism industry has recovered in 2010 with several additional record-breaking statistics. 
    • Denver had a record 12.7 million total overnight visitors, up five percent over 12.1 million in 2009.
    • Denver had a record 10.9 million overnight leisure visitors, up eight percent over the 10.1 million in 2009.
    • Denver had a record 4.4 million marketable visitors, the sixth straight year for an increase, and up three percent over 2009. Marketable visitors spend almost three times more per day than visitors who stay with friends and relatives ($107 per day for marketable visitors vs. $38 per day for people staying with friends and relatives).
    • Thanks to blockbuster exhibits such as King Tut, Body Worlds and Moore in the Gardens, Denver had a great summer with every month July to October in 2010 generating large increases in visitors over the same time period in 2009.
    • Denver saw increased spending by leisure visitors, generating a total of $3 billion in spending, up from $2.8 billion in 2009, and near the record $3.1 billion from 2008. 
    • Denver increased in visits to friends and relatives by 12 percent, compared with 2009. 
    • While business visitors and business spending mirrored a national decline, Denver did see an increase in convention business, according to Longwoods. Independent VISIT DENVER numbers show that 2010 was the second best convention year in Denver’s history with 75 conventions in the Colorado Convention Center and 423 other meetings in 2010, for a total of 371,003 delegates with an economic impact of $653 million. The city had 378,863 delegates in the best year of 2008, and dropped to 313,540 delegates in 2009.
    • Additionally, Denver’s 7.3 million day visitors contributed $0.34 billion in direct spending.

“We’re pleased to see that Denver tourism has continued its upward trend in marketable visitors in 2010, and even surpassed several other records from 2008, the city’s best year for tourism,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER. “The increase in marketable visitors shows the importance of tourism marketing, and the impact that big blockbuster events can have on the city’s economy,” Scharf said.

To view the complete Longwoods International Colorado Travel Year Study 2010 presentation, visit the website.