Jun 9, 2010 3:40 AM by Jeannette Hynes

Colorado gains tourists in '09 but spending down

Gay Chandler convinced her husband, children, and grandchildren to drive from Texas to Colorado for a family vacation.

"My husband and I had our 48th anniversary last week.  We came here on our first wedding anniversary so we going to come back," says Chandler.

The Cog Railway was on their "to do" list.

"It was cool, and when we got up to the top, it was freezing, and I didn't like it," says Hayden Hoover, age 8, and grandson to Chandler.

The Chandler family is like many who visited the Cog Railway last year: not from Colorado, but not from too far away.

The Colorado Tourism Office hired Longwood International to conduct a study of tourism trends in Colorado and compare them to the nation.

In 2009, day trips to Colorado were up.  Overnight stays for pleasure were up one percent while the nation saw a seven-percent decline in overnight stays last year.  People did cut the time they stayed, and spent 11 percent less than 2008. 

The Cog Railway was no exception to budget-conscious visitors.  General Manager Spencer Wren says they've never had such a big response for their online coupons as they've had recently.  The Cog Railway's tourism numbers from last season are like the state's - fairly flat.

"We were delighted to be flat," says Wren.

The Cog has had a rough start to this year which Wren blames mostly on bad weather, including 12-foot snow drifts and 120 mile-per-hour winds.  Wren notices early into this tourism season, people are spending more money at the gift shop than they did last year.  

"We have cautious optimism for this year," says Wren. 




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