Local hotels and destinations offering free tank of gas if you stay

This summer, Colorado Springs hotels and destinations are giving either free beer, free rooms or free gas to visitors to help ease the pain at the pump.

In its second year, the “Tank Full of Summer Savings” program offers fuel-friendly prices on anything from a pint of microbrew to a $50 gas card. The goal is to get visitors to choose the Springs for summer vacation.

Ann’s Sanctuary of the Rose is giving out $50 for fuel when visitors book four or more nights, so is Comfort Inn South. Other lodging operations like the Village at D&B Ranch, are giving a third night free for staying for two days and Sundance Mountain Lodge is offering $25 off on any stay.

Oil prices dropped Wednesday after the government said U.S. supplies grew more than expected last week. Gasoline demand fell 2.8 percent, compared with a year ago.

The Energy Information Administration said the data suggests that motorists aren’t filling up as much ahead of the summer driving season.

Although there was slight dip in prices at the pump this week to a national average of $3.90 for the first time since March, experts say the cost of gasoline will likely rise to about $4 per gallon during the next few weeks.

And the price of gas is a factor in vacation planning. In a recent survey by the U.S. Travel Association, more than 50 percent of vacationers planning to travel by car this summer said that an increase in gas prices would affect their summer leisure travel plans; 57 percent said they would alter travel plans if gas prices increased by at least 26 cents; and about 44 percent of vacationers traveling by car said that an increase in gas prices would cause them to take fewer trips this summer.

Colorado travel experts said the state may see more visitors from its neighbors, including Kansas and Wyoming, who choose shorter and fewer driving trips.

They might be enticed by a tank of free gas. Last year, the “Tank Full of Summer Savings”  incentive program – the brain child of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau – had great response, said CVB spokeswoman Chelsy Murphy. The CVB’s website had 4,300 hits and 550 links out to the participating deal members.