DENVER (CBS4) – Experts say Denver’s tourism has been hit hard by the pandemic, but new data shows the numbers are slowly rebounding.
“We’re an outdoor city and an outdoor state and especially after COVID, and people are drawn to that,” Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER told CBS4’s Mekialaya White. “I think there is currently a strong demand from holidaymakers. They want to get out and travel, but there are headwinds with the economy, inflation and gas prices.
Another factor and deterrent: recent crime.
“Every city goes through its safety and security issues, and Denver is like most cities…the mayor is on top and Chief Pazen is aware of that,” Scharf said.
He also thinks the worst of the decline in tourism is behind us. VISIT DENVER cites the city welcomed 31.7 million visitors in 2021, recouping some of the losses incurred in 2020. Travel spending by all visitors to Denver in 2021 hit $6.6 billion, down from a record of $7 billion spent in 2019. There was also a marked increase in overnight travel. It increased by 27% last year to reach 14.8 million visitors, compared to 2020.
Visitors walking and shopping along the 16th Street Mall on Wednesday echoed their stay.
“We went to the zoo, the children’s museum, and later sightseeing at the waterfalls,” said Shawn Marquez, a resident of North Platte, Nebraska. “And I’m sure we’ll be back at some point.”
Shil Majumdar was visiting from Chicago.
“My friends and I meet every year. It’s a great place, close to the mountains, just great city life. Every afternoon we come here (the mall) so we wanted to experience the morning vibe today.”
“First time in Denver,” said Karen Cary, who is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve heard that in the South we have Southern hospitality, but everywhere we go here we get ‘hellos’. I’m enjoying it so far. We’re approaching the age of the retirement and looking for where we could spend the rest of our lives.
Additionally, according to VISIT DENVER, the top tourist attractions in 2021 were:
– Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
– Denver Art Museum
– Denver Zoo
– Colorado Rockies
– Water World
– Denver Botanical Gardens
– Elitch Gardens theme and water park
– Downtown Aquarium
– Colorado State Capitol
– Denver Broncos
Top states sending vacationers to Denver in 2021:
And the top cities sending leisure visitors to Denver in 2021:
– Los Angeles, CA
– Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
– New York, New York
– Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico
– Orlando-Daytona Beach, Florida