COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado's tourism industry is recovering slowly after being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers hope to help them rebound with House Bill 1263 which would create the Colorado Meeting and Events Incentive Program under the Colorado Tourism Office. The temporary program would offer rebates of up to 10 percent for hard costs associated with hosting events and a rebate of up to 25 percent for COVID-related costs.
Eligible events could include meetings, conferences, festivals, weddings, family reunions, or other personal events. These events must generate at least 25 paid overnight stays in a motel, hotel, vacation rental or other lodging establishment and can demonstrate a significant economic benefit for a host community in Colorado.
After handling mostly cancellations and re-bookings, Visit Colorado Springs is busy yet again.
"We are busy with new customers who are looking for the second half of 2021 as well as 2022 and beyond," said Doug Price, President, and CEO of Visit Colorado Springs.
It's been a tough year for the tourism industry, but Price is hoping with the help of House Bill 1263 they can rebound from the pandemic.
"Our industry has been decimated through the pandemic. House Bill 1263 is the shot in the arm that we need to provide incentives for people to want to come and hold meetings and events in Colorado," said Price.
He says places like the Cheyenne Resort, The Broadmoor, and Hotel Elegante get 70 percent of their revenue from meetings and conferences.
"This will go a long way to help bring events here. The biggest thing that happened last fall was the addition of Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines is both a business and leisure carrier so for them to invest in Colorado Springs, we now are in the position where meetings and events planners are looking at us like they never have before," said Price.
Rep. Dylan Roberts (D) Avon says the program would not only help the tourism industry but others as well.
"When you bring a large event to a community, not only do you help that specific venue, you help all of those businesses in that community too. People are going to go to restaurants, go shopping and stay at hotels. This small investment will double, triple and quadruple in its investment once people arrive at those locations," said Roberts.
He says the program is possible due to the state stimulus package.
"This is because our state economy did a lot better than expected last year so this a part of the state stimulus package," said Roberts.