Rafting revenues flow into Glenwood | AspenTimes.com

Rafting revenues flow into Glenwood

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” When James Harris has family or friends visit, he typically makes reservations at Whitewater Rafting LLC for an excursion down the river.

“Whenever family is in from out of town, we try and do this,” Harris said. “This is probably our fourth or fifth time going.”

Harris has lived in Glenwood Springs for eight years, and once again, recently Harris found himself with his wife and two kids floating down the mighty Colorado River in a raft with six out-of-town visitors.

“It’s the locals that bring the tourists to town. That is the majority of our business,” said co-owner of Whitewater Rafting LLC, Susi Larson.

Larson estimated that Whitewater sees a pretty even split between tourists and locals who take rafting trips. She said the majority of the business they see comes from the Front Range.

The rafting industry in Glenwood Springs accounts for between $6 million and $7 million each year, according to Kate Collins, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. The city of Glenwood takes in an estimated $17 million in indirect expenditures from those who come to town and spend money on other things like lodging, shopping, dinning out, or rafting, Collins said.

Collins also estimates that of the $33 million the city received in 2007 through the accommodations tax, approximately $15 million to $20 million is from those who come to Glenwood for the recreational activities.

However, Collins said the Glenwood Chamber doesn’t track those kinds of statistics. She said her estimates were provided by her experience in the industry and the information provided by independent reports.

According to the Colorado River Outfitters Association’s report on commercial river use, more than 539,000 people took rafting trips last year throughout the state. That total was a 5.7 percent increase over 2006. Collectively, those visitors spent $153 million statewide during the period of their rafting trips, the report stated. That total was a 10 percent increase over 2006 as well.

Larson has seen the increase in numbers over the years.

“It’s increased every year for the past 20 years,” Larson said. “Basically, besides 2002, it’s gone up each year.”

And she said she expects this year to keep pace, especially with the high water levels.

“Hopefully it will,” Larson said. “The water will be better than it’s been. It will be more fun to ride, but as far as numbers, hopefully there will be more. They will surely have a better time.”