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Longwoods Traveler Study - Colorado Visitation 2010


Contact: Roland Alonzi/Colorado Tourism Office, 646-442-6765 / [email protected]
Rich Grant/VISIT DENVER, 303-571-9450 / [email protected]

The Colorado Tourism Office and VISIT DENVER Report Record-Breaking Tourism Growth in 2010 According to Longwoods International Study

Colorado, Denver outperform national trends; break records for total visitors, overnight visitation, tourism spending and other travel segments

DENVER (June 15, 2011) – Colorado and Denver set new records for overall visitors, overnight visitation and visitor spending in 2010, according to a profile of Colorado and Denver visitors by research firm Longwoods International commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office and VISIT DENVER.

  • With a slower than anticipated post-recession recovery nationwide, Colorado bucked several national trends.  

  • Colorado remained the country’s top-ranked ski destination, with a 20 percent share of all overnight ski trips, an increase over 2009 (19.7 percent).   
  • Colorado outperformed the national average for outdoor and city trip segments. Colorado saw record increases in total visitors, domestic overnight visitation in 2010.  

  • Colorado welcomed a record 55.1 million visitors in 2010, a 6.1 percent increase over 2009 and the highest total number ever reported. Of these, the state welcomed 28.9 million domestic overnight visitors, a five percent increase over 2009 and also a new record.  
  • Colorado’s marketable trips in 2010 grew by four percent over 2009 to 13.8 million visits, setting a new record. Marketable trips are defined as travel that is influenced by marketing efforts and are not comprised of visitors who are visiting friends or relatives or business travelers.
  • Day trips to and within Colorado rose by nine percent in 2010 to 26.2 million trips, up from 24.2 million trips in 2009, another record number.
  • Tourism expenditures rose five percent over 2009 to $8.8 billion. This is an impressive number, given that aggregate spending by domestic visitors in Colorado in 2009 was down 11 percent over 2008.
  • Meanwhile, business travel to Colorado rose by three percent to 3.5 million trips, which was not on pace with the national growth, but represented a welcome improvement following the sharp decline in 2009.

“We were very excited to see record numbers in terms of overall visitors, domestic overnight visits and, most importantly, visitor spending in Colorado. It also reinforces the fact that we must be aggressive with funding our marketing efforts at a time when other states like Washington and Texas have had significant cuts in their overall marketing spend,” said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office.

According to the Denver 2010 Travel Year Report by Longwoods International, Denver’s tourism industry has recovered in 2010 with several additional record-breaking statistics.    

  • Denver had a record 12.7 million total overnight visitors, up five percent over 12.1 million in 2009.

  • Denver had a record 10.9 million overnight leisure visitors, up seven percent over the 10.1 million in 2009.
  • Denver had a record 4.4 million marketable visitors, the sixth straight year for an increase, and up three percent over 2009.  Marketable visitors spend almost three times more per day than visitors who stay with friends and relatives ($107 per day for marketable visitors vs. $38 per day for people staying with friends and relatives).
  • Thanks to blockbuster exhibits such as King Tut, Body Worlds and Moore in the Gardens, Denver had a great summer with every month July to October in 2010 generating large increases in visitors over the same time period in 2009.
  • Denver saw increased spending by leisure visitors, generating a total of $3 billion in spending, up from $2.8 billion in 2009, and near the record $3.1 billion from 2008.   
  • Denver increased in visits to friends and relatives by 12 percent, compared with 2009.   
  • While business visitors and business spending mirrored a national decline, Denver did see an increase in convention business, according to Longwoods.  Independent VISIT DENVER numbers show that 2010 was the second best convention year in Denver’s history with 75 conventions in the Colorado Convention Center and 423 other meetings in 2010, for a total of 371,003 delegates with an economic impact of $653 million.  The city had 378,863 delegates in the best year of 2008, and dropped to 313,540 delegates in 2009.
  • Additionally, Denver’s 7.3 million day visitors contributed $0.34 billion in direct spending.

“We’re pleased to see that Denver tourism has continued its upward trend in marketable visitors in 2010, and even surpassed several other records from 2008, the city’s best year for tourism,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER.  “The increase in marketable visitors shows the importance of tourism marketing, and the impact that big blockbuster events can have on the city’s economy,” Scharf said.

To view the complete Longwoods International Colorado Travel Year Study 2010 presentation, visit


Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, 26 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 54 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet and 12 national parks, monuments and historic sites. For more information or a copy of the 2011 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit or call 1-800-COLORADO. Media are invited to visit the Colorado Media Room at for story ideas, press releases, press kits, and high-resolution, downloadable photos and video for editorial use. Follow Colorado on Twitter at or become a Colorado Facebook fan at

About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau

Celebrating more than 100 years of promoting the Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes.  Tourism is the second largest industry in Denver, generating $3 billion in annual spending in 2010, while supporting nearly 50,000 jobs. Learn more about Denver at, on Twitter @VisitDenver and, or by phone at 800 2 DENVER.


Established in 1978, Longwoods International specializes in tourism research. Their syndicated quarterly study that now surveys over two million U.S. travelers each year, provides destination marketing organizations with estimates of visitor volumes, visitor spending and other characteristics of those visiting their destination. Current tourism clients include the U.S. Government (OTTI), New York City and New York State, Washington D.C. and the State of Washington, California, Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming, Ohio, Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, Philadelphia, and others. Longwoods’ client base extends beyond tourism to include numerous major corporations/agencies in the U.S. and abroad, including Proctor and Gamble, RBC Royal Bank, Farmers Insurance, GM, Bell Canada, US Navy, U.S. Postal Service, and Canada Post.
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Findings:  Longwoods Colorado 2010

                                                                2009                         2010      
Total Overnight Trips to Colorado:
    Business                                            3.4 million               3.5 million
    Leisure                                               24.1 million             25.4 million
    Total                                                   27.5 million total     28.9 million

Total Spending (Overnight Visitors):  $8.6 billion             $8.8 billion
    Accommodations                             $2.4 billion             $2.5 billion
    Eating/Drinking                                $1.7 billion              $1.8 billion
    Retail                                                 $1.2 billion              $1.2 billion
    Transportation                                  $1.9 billion             $1.9 billion
    Recreation                                        $1.4 billion              $1.4 billion

Average Daily Expenditure:
    Business traveler                             $95 a day                 $307 per trip
    Marketable traveler                          $110 a day               $360 per trip    
    Visiting friends/relatives                 $46 a day                 $239 per trip
    Day Visitor                                        $48 a day                 $52 per trip

Total Nights spent in Colorado
     (leisure trips):                                  4.7 nights                 4.8 nights

States sending overnight leisure                                          Urban areas sending overnight
visitors to Colorado (in order)                                               leisure visitors to Colorado (in order)
Colorado                                                                                  Denver, CO
California                                                                                 Colorado Springs – Pueblo, CO                                   
Texas                                                                                       Los Angeles, CA                                   
Arizona                                                                                    Albuquerque – Santa Fe, NM                               
Illinois                                                                                      Phoenix, AZ
New Mexico                                                                             New York City, NY
Florida                                                                                     Dallas – Ft. Worth, TX
Kansas                                                                                    Chicago, IL
Nebraska                                                                                 Grand Junction – Montrose, CO
Wyoming                                                                                  Salt Lake City, UT
Findings:  Longwoods Denver 2010

                                                               2009                          2010      
Total Trips to Denver:
    Business                                            2.0 million                  1.8 million
    Leisure                                               20.1 million                10.9 million
    Total                                                  12.1 million total       12.7 million

Total Spending (Overnight Visitors):  $2.8 billion              $3.0 billion
    Accommodations                             $831 million            $921 million
    Eating/Drinking                                $711 million             $668 million
    Retail                                                 $461 million            $456 million
    Transportation                                  $591 million            $664 million
    Recreation                                        $246 million             $285 million

Average Daily Expenditure:
    Business traveler                             $86 a day                 $92 per trip
    Marketable traveler                          $89 a day                 $107 per trip    
    Visiting friends/relatives                 $40 a day                 $38 per trip
    Day Visitor                                        $39 a day                 $47 per trip

Total Nights spent in Denver
    (leisure trips):                                   3.7 nights                 4.0 nights

States sending overnight leisure                                        Urban areas sending overnight
visitors to Denver (in order) 
                                               leisure visitors to Denver (in order)

Colorado                                                                                 Los Angeles, CA
Texas                                                                                      Chicago, Il
California                                                                                 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM
Illinois                                                                                      Phoenix, AZ
Arizona                                                                                    Grand Junction-Montrose, CO
Missouri                                                                                   Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
Wyoming                                                                                 New York, NY
Florida                                                                                     Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota                                                                               St. Louis, MO
Washington                                                                             Philadelphia, PA
Top Attractions Visited in 2010

Overall                                                                                     Paid Admission
16th Street Mall                                                                        Colorado Rockies
Cherry Creek Shopping District                                                Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
LoDo Historic District                                                                Denver Zoo
Colorado Rockies                                                                     Denver Art Museum
Castle Rock Factory Outlets                                                     Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Denver Pavilions                                                                       Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Park Meadows Retail Resort                                                     Buffalo Bill’s Grave & Museum
Colorado State Capitol                                                              Denver’s Downtown Aquarium
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre                                               Colorado Railroad Museum
Denver Zoo                                                                                Butterfly Pavilion
Denver Art Museum                                                                   Denver Nuggets
Coors Brewery                                                                           Colorado Avalanche
Denver Museum of Nature & Science                                        Denver Broncos