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DENVER-Colorado’s Tourism Office reports that $1.1 billion in visitor spending last year was directly attributable to its advertising efforts, doubling the impact from the prior year. The campaign was focused on increasing leisure travel to the state.

On average, visitors spent $274 per trip in Colorado, boosting the overall total spending to the market expenditures to $1.1 billion, according to the CTO’s “Colorado 2003 Travel Year Study.” The 102% increase in spending over the previous year’s campaign translates into $65.5 million in additional tax revenues generated from tourism promotion.

“The research shows that having a stronger presence in the marketplace pays off,” says Stephen Szapor, CTO board chairman. “We saw a significant increase in spending and incremental visitors who would not have visited Colorado without the added boost to our tourism promotion efforts. And we still haven’t seen the full impact of last year’s $9 million infusion.”

The industry is optimistic about the summer season, Szapor says. “[Hotel] bookings and retail sales are strong and DIA is seeing a record number of visitors traveling through the airport,” he says.

The state’s current advertising campaign influenced more than 9.1 million people who intend to take a Colorado vacation in the next two years. The report also shows that total spending by overnight visitors increased by 1% to $7.1 billion from $7 billion in 2001, when the last survey was taken. Of that 32% of the total spending, $2.3 billion, was spent in the Denver metro area, while 68%, $4.8 billion, was spent in other parts of the state, such as ski resorts.

Colorado hosted 24.9 million overnight visitors, 21.3 million of them leisure trips and 3.6 million business trips last year, down about 5% from 2002. The study also shows that pleasure trips were down 4% last year, though leisure travelers spent 6% more. Visits to friends and relatives slipped the most, falling 6% to 10.5 million trips; nationally such trips were down only 1%.

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