July was hot for tourism in Colorado Springs

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July was a hot month for tourism in Colorado Springs and for city coffers, which collected record-breaking amounts in lodging taxes.

City officials reported in a monthly tax collection report that the hotel industry showed a large percentage increase – 22 percent — in July 2011 over last July. Overall, the combined sales and use tax collections were up 16.2 percent this July over last July. And, restaurants fared well with an 8.8 percent increase over last July.

The increase in tax collections translates to lots of spending in the area. The U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and the Rocky Mountain State Games were three key events in July that brought visitors to town, said Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But there were other events that did not get as much attention including a youth basketball tournament that brought in 3,200 visitors and a religious conference that brought in 3,500 visitors that contributed to the hotel and restaurant tax collections increases, Price said.

“I think it continues to show the economy is rebounding,” he said. “You have to remember that in the spring, we were very concerned about gas prices – our members created savings deals and coupons to attract visitors.”

The pay off was grand. The Lodger’s and Auto Rental Tax, which helps fund the convention and visitors bureau, was up 15.48 percent this July over last July.

“To use the essence of our brand, Colorado Springs is alive,” Price said.

The tricky part will be to plan as many events next summer to keep tourism dollars rolling in. For example, the U.S. Women’s Open does not happen every year.

“We will continue to market as effectively as we can to get visitors here,” Price said.