In the past, Denver was often little more than a stop-over location for flights destined for other cities. In the past few years, however, tourism has been a steadily growing source of revenue for the city. Now, overnight visitors are spending over $4 billion a year in this Colorado city, according to The Denver Post.
Richard Scharf, the current chief of Visit Denver, explains the change in the city’s tourism. “In the old days, we were really just a gateway to the beautiful Rocky Mountains,” he said in an interview with the Denver Post. “It’s been a good 10 to 15 years of consistent marketing, and we’ve really come out of the shadows and come out as a vacation destination.”
The Mile High City has more to offer than just majestic mountain views. Hip restaurants, international art exhibits, Peyton Manning and legal weed are just some of the draws that bring urban tourists to the city these days. According to the latest research, 2013 saw a record number of 14 million overnight visitors, and they collectively spent $4.1 billion on transportation, recreation, retail, accommodations and food.
The survey additionally showed that Denver was experiencing a strong surge in visitors who could travel anywhere, but who specifically chose Denver for their trips. “I think we’re moving up into a category like Austin, Seattle, Portland — cool cities that offer a combination of great food, party atmosphere, nearby recreation,” said Rich Grant, a spokesman for Visit Denver.
The spending in all categories is up since in years previous, especially as Denver continues to become known as a leisure destination. Since voters approved to double the tourism marketing budget in 2005, the city has seen a 48% increase in the number of leisure visitors. Many visitors are choosing to purchase items like clothing, food and jewelry – which is one of the best ways to accessorize. The city says it is a “myth” that the tourism boom is largely due to cannabis.