May 24, 2012 10:19 PM by Siera Santos

Graduation ceremonies kick off tourism season

As cadets flung their caps into the air yesterday, it marked the start of budding careers. Around here, it marked the start of tourism season.

With friends and family of Air Force Academy graduates in town, restaurants and hotels see a spike in business. It's the first big event of the summer for local businesses.

Close to the Academy, Hampton Inn and Suites is located just across I-25. It's booked out nearly a year in advance.

"We end up turning away quite a few people and we have a wait list," says owner and general manager Ed Ellsworth.

Even restaurants that aren't nearby see a steady influx in customers. In Old Colorado City, Chef Franco Pisani of Parvicini's City hires two additional cooks and two servers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. He needs extra employees to tackle a full restaurant.

"They say one in every four diners in your restaurant is a tourist or from out of state," says Chef Franco who is also the President of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

"It definitely does help all the restaurants. Tourism in general does."



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