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Colorado Springs tourism brings in billions, numbers expected to increase this year

Posted at 12:45 PM, Jun 03, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS — Summer marks the peak of tourism in the Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak region. The plethora of scenic, outdoor activities and good weather bring visitors in from around Colorado and out-of-state.

It might be obvious, but Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods are two of the larger driving forces behind the local tourism economy. But other activities like the recent reopening of the Space Foundation Discovery Center or, later this summer, the Pioneers Museum once again opening its doors are expected to draw some tourists.

With the upcoming opening of the Sunset Amphitheater music venue and the Olympic and Paralympic Museum hosting events for the Paris Games, it’s expected to be a busy summer.

According to Visit Colorado Springs, the local tourism authority, visitation numbers in 2021 and 2022 were higher than before the pandemic. With many turning to the outdoors during COVID quarantines, an outdoor mecca like Colorado Springs became an even more popular destination.

Annual data for 2023 is expected to come later this month.

“Our last data shows that we had 24 million visitors spending $2.8 billion in the Pikes Peak region. And we do expect similar numbers and even some growth this year,” said Alexea Veneracion, director of communications for Visit COS.

One tool to measure tourism is the Lodging and Automobile Rental Tax (LART), collected when someone rents a car or stays at a hotel, which has shown a sizable bump in recent data.

Visit COS said LART is up 4.8% in April when compared to April 2023. And year-to-date, the tax is up nearly 3% compared to a year ago.

The organization measures day trippers from Denver, Pueblo, and elsewhere, but also tracks out-of-state visitors. Veneracion said the more populated states like California, Texas, Florida, and New York are where many of the region’s tourists are visiting from.

Visit COS also expects upcoming events like Pikes Peak Pride Fest, Juneteenth, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show, and the Paris Olympics to all be big tourist draws this summer.

“We have a Paris Games campaign for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, that's going to be in collaboration with the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum and the city of Colorado Springs,” said Veneracion. “So we're targeting those out-of-state visitors to come here this summer and throughout the year to check out the museum, the training center, our natural training grounds, and celebrate being the Olympic City, USA.”

Some drivers might have spotted a Visit Albuquerque billboard near downtown in recent days, but Veneracion said their campaigns have been focused digitally, online and on social media. But she said they're also planning to post their own billboard in Albuquerque around the time of the annual Balloon Fiesta this autumn.

“This is the world of public relations. You can't say for certain what drives visitation, but we are putting our campaign dollars where we know they need to go,” she said. “I would say a lot of it does have to do with how we've adjusted, how we're promoting Colorado Springs. And it is helping bring more people in to spend money and stay longer.”

Email Senior Reporter Brett Forrest at brett.forrest@koaa.com. Follow @brettforrestTVon X and Brett Forrest News on Facebook.
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