Ski trips give Colo. tourism an edge

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As expected, tourism spending in Colorado was down during 2009 –  but the state still outperformed the nation in several tourism calculators, thanks in large part to the state’s ski industry.

The state had 51.7 million domestic visitors in 2009, a 1.1 percent increase over the record total visitation in 2008, according to the Colorado Tourism Office.

At the same time, U.S. overnight trips decreased 7 percent compared to the year before.

Colorado had 24.2 million day trips, a 4-percent increase over the record number of day trips taken in 2008.

The state had increases in overnight leisure trips, 24.1 million visitors, an increase of 3 percent over 2008 – and the highest number reported, dating back to 1992.

Colorado also remained the top overnight destination for ski trips, claiming 19.7 percent share of the national market, with 1.6 million overnight ski trips in 2009.

By contrast, nationwide, overnight ski trips were down 21 percent.

And nationally,  leisure travel decreased 5 percent.

Colorado’s “marketable” trips increased 3 percent over 2008, while nationwide marketable trips declined 5 percent.

Marketable trips include travel that is influenced by marketing efforts, comprised of visitors not visiting friends or relatives.

Colorado’s market share of all overnight marketable trips increased from 2.4 to 2.6 percent, ranking Colorado 18th nationally.

As anticipated, spending in 2009 was down statewide, as visitors reduced expenses, but didn’t abandon travel.

Statewide, in 2009, aggregate spending by domestic overnight and day visitors decreased 11 percent from 2008 to $8.6 billion.

Day visitor spending, however,  stayed flat in 2009, reaching $1.2 billion, a decrease of 0.01 percent over 2008.  Colorado outpaced visitor spending nationally.

The state’s tourism industry employs more than 114,000 people.

The complete report is available online.