Colorado Blog

State readies tourism plan - Pueblo Chieftain

While tourists from Texas remain common in Colorado, the Lone Star State can’t match California.

California supplies Colorado with the most

While tourists from Texas remain common in Colorado, the Lone Star State can’t match California.

California supplies Colorado with the most out-of-state overnight visitors, almost 30 percent more than Texas in the No. 2 spot, according to survey data presented last week by the Colorado Tourism Office.

On a per capita basis, Texas barely ranks in the Top 10, below Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, Illinois and tied with California at No. 7, the data show. Utah ranks lower.

The rankings were among the many findings that drew interest as the state tourism office visited Pueblo on Wednesday as part of an eight-city listening tour ahead of its release of a statewide tourism plan.

The 90-minute session at the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library drew about 30 people, including state tourism director Cathy Ritter and her staff and representatives of the tourism industry in Pueblo and surrounding cities.

Mitch Nichols, president of Nickols Tourism Group of Bellingham, Wash., and Dave Radcliffe of Radcliffe Co. of Spokane, Wash., led the discussion. The companies are assisting the state with preparing the plan.

The plan will focus on ways Colorado can expand its already robust tourism market, Nichols said.

Part of the plan also will focus on expanding tourism in rural Colorado and other areas outside of the Denver Metro market and the state’s ski towns, he said.

Other data presented showed that Denver and the ski towns are by far the major draws — and also the fastest-growing areas — for the state’s visitor and tourism business in the past two years.

One audience member asked if the lower per capita visitation rate by residents of Utah and New Mexico showed a need for the state to focus more tourism marketing spending on Southern and Western Colorado.

Nichols and Radcliffe, who added Texas to the list along with New Mexico and Utah, said the final state tourism plan is expected to address those kinds of issues.

“I think that speaks to the fundamental strategies that we believe will come out of the plan, where we’re talking about that we’ve done a fantastic job (in certain areas such as the ski industry) but are there greater opportunities in some of those regional markets to drive some incremental demand?” Radcliffe said.

The large number of California tourists likely relates in part to the growth in the number of former Californians who now live in Colorado. Visitors say the presence of family in Colorado is one of the top factors in why they decide to visit, according to the state.

The plan is due out in January.

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