by ASIF LAKHANI
Denver is great for as many reasons as it is high above sea level, which is exactly 5,280 feet – or colloquially, a Mile High. Really, it depends on who you ask what they like about the town, but whether it’s for one reason or literally thousands of other things, the decision is unanimous: It’s a great place to be! As a matter of fact, the capital city of Colorado has been one of the best places to live in the country for a few consecutive years (currently No. 2), according to a U.S. News & World report. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s a great destination for travelers, too.
MARKETING TO VISITORS
Visit Denver strategically focuses its efforts on “marketable visitors” – people who choose where they want to spend their time off and respond to marketing messaging on the topic(s). So far, the approach has generated more average daily spending from leisure visitors than it has business travelers for three consecutive years.
Conventions have still managed to thrive in Denver during that timeframe as well. As of early 2019, the city had three hotels in the Top 100 Meeting Hotels list, and there were more than 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance to the Colorado Convention Center, according to Visit Denver. It also is a top-tier meeting destination nationally, according to a Cvent study from 2018 and another one from MeetingSource.com.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR DENVER HOTELIERS?
In 2019 alone, visitors to the state of Colorado spent $24.2 billion. Of its 86.9 million visitors that year, only 39 million stayed overnight, which helped contribute to $1.5 billion in tax revenue for the state saving every household within $707 annually. Tourism also helped support more than 180,000 jobs throughout the state in 2019, according to the report by Visit Denver.
In Denver specifically, the numbers were just as strong. The city had 17.7 million overnight visitors in 2019, which was a record high and 2 percent more than the year previous. Travelers accounted for $7 billion in spending in town, supporting more than 64,000 jobs, and saving households $620 in annual taxes. Denver hotels were the recipients of $1.9 billion in visitor spending in 2019 in addition to $1.2 billion on food and beverage. Attractions in Denver are a plenty, and so is the money they rake in: $537 million for sightseeing and recreational activities, to be exact.
THE COVID-19 CONCERN
In response to COVID-19, the city and state have adopted many of the safety protocols recommended by health experts: wearing masks, adding an abundance of hand sanitizer stations to the airport, limiting capacity at venues and gatherings, prioritizing outdoor seating at restaurants when possible, and more. The Colorado Convention Center has been converted to an alternative care facility (different from a field hospital) for the time being. A social distancing calculator for venues also was made available online. Visit Denver, along with a handful of other commerce and community organizations in town, launched ToGoDenver.com earlier this year to help drive business to restaurants and breweries via takeout and delivery orders. The group also added a virtual events section to its online calendar to allow people to experience the city’s top-notch cultural arts scene from the comfort of their own homes.
Colorado’s plan to address the economic impact of COVID-19 includes relief, restart, and recovery. Specifically, the Governor’s Council on Economic Stabilization and Growth will review budget stabilization, revenue adjustments, supply chain disruptions, and more. Regular COVID-19 communications, easing of restrictions, and ongoing business support all are part of the solution to help the Denver rebound from the pandemic.