Colorado resort town visitation slowing, spending soaring
October 29, 2017
DENVER — Visits to Colorado resort towns may be slowing, but spending is not.
Sales-tax collections in Colorado resort towns notched another record this summer, marking five consecutive years of steadily increasing summer spending.
Taxable summertime spending in destinations such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Telluride, Winter Park and Steamboat Springs has soared anywhere from 26 percent to 59 percent since 2013, The Denver Post reported.
Colorado’s 26 ski areas saw a slight dip in skier visits last season below the record-setting season of 2015-16, when resorts tallied more than 13 million visits. But resort towns once again harvested record sales-tax revenues.
Inntopia tracks lodging activity in 20 mountain communities in eight Western states.
“The trend of revenue growth has been phenomenal, almost astronomical, particularly for the summer, since 2008,” said Tom Foley, vice president of business intelligence for Inntopia.
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In 2012, as resort communities clawed out of the recession, Foley advised mountain town tourism leaders that summer posed the most opportunity for growth. Five years later, occupancy rates in the summer are almost identical with winter. With those warm-weather occupancy gains comes a surge in room rates.
The steadily increasing growth in lodging prices worries Foley. As baby boomers back away from skiing, it’s well known there is no new wave of skiers waiting to replace the generation that birthed the modern ski industry.
“It becomes this interesting matrix with the health of the industry and the health of the community in the short and long term over the health of lodging properties in the short and long term,” Foley said. “Is it about growing the sport or getting a good rate and strong revenue in the short term?”
But a downturn in occupancy doesn’t mean declining revenues for Beaver Run owners who rent their units to short-term visitors.
“We have definitely seen a nice increase in daily rates,” said Bob Barto, who manages the 432-unit Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge. “After record year over record year, last year was an adjustment — and sooner or later, there’s always an adjustment.”
Bookings for the coming season are up over last winter, Barto said.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com