Higher hotel occupancy rates point to healthy tourism season

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So far this season, tourism is making a healthy recovery in the Pikes Peak region.

Occupancy at area hotels increased to 68.1 percent in May, up from 59.2 percent in May 2009.

And Colorado Springs has higher occupancy rates than the state average, which increased from 56.9 percent in May, up from 52.4 percent in 2009.

Statewide, average room rates increased slightly from $103.97 last year to $107.28 this year, for the month of May.

The city’s Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax, or LART, collections also showed evidence of recovery. Collections jumped nearly 17 percent last month; year-to-date they’re up 4.97 percent over last year.

As area hotels see increased business, the folks at Pikes Peak Country Attractions are busy doing what they do best – helping people plan vacations to the region. Both online ticket sales and out-of-state sales are up, said Michele Carvell, executive director of PPCA.

Room rates, however, have barely inched up over last year, and rates take time to recover after a recession. But the increase in visitors to the region is a start toward recovery.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort had 39 percent occupancy growth, year-over-year in May, thanks to leisure,  large-group and business travelers.

“That (corporate) purse string is opening up more,” said John Branciforte, director of sales and marketing for the resort.

Tourism officials also say steady gasoline prices will help strengthen the season.