Colorado Tourism Industry Reports Record Economic Impact in 2022 According to Annual Research

With majority of growth attributed to Denver and front range counties

DENVER, CO, July 28, 2023 — The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), released today the annual tourism industry research reports for 2022 from Dean Runyan Associates and Longwoods International. Colorado saw a record high of $27.7 billion in travel spending and 90 million visitors in 2022.

According to the Dean Runyan report, travel spending in Colorado grew $5.6 billion from $22.1 billion in 2021 to $27.7 billion in 2022, a 25% increase. More than 70% of that growth is attributed to the Denver Metro Area alone. Additionally, the Longwoods Travel USA Report indicates that visitation to Colorado increased by 5.8 million visitors from 84.2 million in 2021 to 90 million in 2022, a 6.5% increase. State and local tax revenue also grew to a combined $1.7 billion in 2022, an increase of $300 million compared to the prior year. 

"Tourism is a vital part of  Colorado's economy, and I am thrilled to see the historic industry growth in travel spending, jobs, and number of visitors from 2022. With more people choosing to visit Colorado, it is important everyone remember to travel safely and responsibly so that we can all do our part to protect Colorado's attractions for many years to come,” said Governor Jared Polis. 

Direct travel-generated employment experienced a gain of approximately 15,700 jobs, with a total of 176,800. This was a nearly 10% increase in employment compared to 2021, with accommodations and Food Services accounting for 57% of that gain. In 2022, every $1 million in travel-related spending resulted in six jobs for the industry. Overnight business trips grew by 58% in 2022 from 2021. The top three activities and experiences for overnight visitors to Colorado in 2022 were shopping, sightseeing and hiking/backpacking.

“We are thrilled with the 2022 results, particularly Denver and other areas with slower growth from previous years ” said CTO Director Timothy Wolfe. “Our focus in 2023 is to continue to grow back our international & group visitors as we advance our stewardship programming to balance the needs of our residents and visitors, while also enhancing our environment and communities.” 

Although we are seeing strong results from 2022, initial projections for 2023 are providing insights into challenges facing the continued growth for tourism in Colorado and across the U.S. Nationally, trends are indicating that inflation is cooling down and that this will lead to lower levels of travel spending. Within Colorado, occupancy at hotels and short-term rentals have begun to slow and are in some cases down year-to-date through June, according to Smith Travel Research. 

Other notable impacts from the Longwoods International and Dean Runyan Associates studies include:

  • 82% of overnight travelers were repeat visitors in 2022. 
  • 59% of overnight travelers to Colorado had visited before in the past 12 months.
  • For 2022 overnight visitors, average nights spent in Colorado increased to 3.6 nights from 3.4 nights in 2021. 
  • Direct travel-generated earnings grew from $7.3 billion to $8.6 billion, a gain of approximately $1.3 billion, and an increase of 18% compared to 2021.
  • Earnings from Accommodation & Food Services (ACM & FS) grew from $3.4 to $4.1 billion, an increase of 20%.
  • State and local tax receipts grew at different rates in 2022, state tax receipts grew almost 18%, while local tax receipts grew nearly 23%.

In addition to promoting economic development, the CTO continued its focus on destination stewardship. Destination stewardship balances quality of life for residents and quality of experience for visitors, while enhancing our environment and communities. The CTO’s “Do Colorado Right” campaign educates visitors and residents on ways to travel thoughtfully and responsibly throughout the state. Core messages include topics like fire prevention, trash mitigation, backcountry safety and sustainable travel.

To view the full reports for Colorado Travel Impacts 2022 (Dean Runyan Associates) and Colorado Travel Year Report 2022 (Longwoods International), visit

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About the Colorado Tourism Office: The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is a division of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The mission of the CTO is to empower the tourism industry by inspiring the world to explore Colorado responsibly and respectfully. The CTO seeks to advance the strength and resilience of the entire industry through collaboration, inclusivity, innovation and leadership. For more information about tourism offerings in Colorado and for a free Colorado Official State Visitor's Guide, visit