Yesterday, Visit Denver reported Denver officially broke its tourism record with an added 1 million overnight visitors in 2015. The increase is three times the national average. The record, which was previously set in 2014, continues a decade-long streak of unprecedented tourism. Visit Denver attributes the rise in travel in part to the increase in the city’s tourism marketing budget made back in 2005.

“One of the reasons we have seen such positive tourism growth is that we have a city that is willing to invest in its tourism product, and we saw that again in 2015 with voters approving important expansions of the Colorado Convention Center and National Western Center as well as the launch of the new rail connection between Denver International Airport and downtown that will pay dividends for decades to come,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of Visit Denver.  “Since that increase in marketing dollars, Denver has seen dramatic tourism growth that translates into greater economic impact for the city,”

That economic growth can be seen with another record high for 2015.

In addition to the influx of travelers, those visitor’s spent $5 billion during their time in town. This is a nine percent increase from 2014. The annual study, conducted by Longwood International, showed that most purchases were made at retail stores  with $627 million in transactions. In comparison, $437 million were spent the “city’s paid attractions and other recreational and sightseeing activities.”  Those top paid attractions include (in order):

  • Denver Zoo

    Photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens on Facebook

    Photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens on Facebook

  • Denver Art Museum
  • Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (ticketed attendance)
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science/IMAX
  • Downtown Aquarium
  • Colorado Railroad Museum
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Children’s Museum of Denver
  • Denver Broncos

Top free attractions were Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, Coors Brewery and the Colorado State Capitol.  Other retail attractions included Lower Downtown (LoDo), Larimer Square, 16th Street Mall, Cherry Creek and more.

Other spending habits include more than $1.5 billion in Denver hotels and other lodging and $1 billion on food and beverage. 

The majority of the visitors (13.8 million) were leisure visitors, while business travelers increased by 9 percent (compared to a flat national average) and reached 2.6 million. The typical leisure traveler was visiting family and friends, while 6.1 million were “‘marketable’ visitors, travelers who could go anywhere and chose to visit Denver.” 

Visitor’s to Denver also report a year-over-year improvement in people’s perception of the city with nearly eight in 10 visitors strongly agreeing that Denver is a city they would “really enjoy visiting again.” The study showed there was also a rise in out-of-state visitors. 

“Out-of-state visitors typically stay longer and spend more money and therefore are the target of most of our marketing dollars,” said Scharf.

The states with the most visitors, aside from Colorado were, California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Major metropolises also brought in more visitors with Los Angles, New York City, and Chicago ranking as the cities with the most visitors to Denver.

In addition to overnight visitors, who stayed on average 3.3 nights, there were an added 12 million day visitors.

 VISIT DENVER is currently conducting a “comprehensive tourism roadmap study that will help establish tourism goals for Denver for the next decade.” The study is scheduled to be finished in late 2016.