Published: May 12, 2013
Britain's Prince Harry left Colorado Springs Sunday, but plenty of his friends and admirers stuck around to take in the sights and fun the area has to offer.
And more could follow in the wake of worldwide exposure that came with the royal visit to the Warrior Games, putting the Pikes Peak region in the spotlight.
'This is definitely beneficial for our city, it influences people to get out and see all we have to offer, ' said Karissa Ballard, information officer with the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Fans from around the world kept businesses and attractions around Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs hopping during a near-perfect sunny weekend.
'We have definitely seen more international visitors. Groups from England and France came around to get information on attractions such as Pikes Peak, the Manitou Incline and Garden of the Gods, ' Ballard said.
Susan Edmondson, who heads the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership, said downtown was teeming with people Sunday.
'Whenever there are special events, we always plan to capitalize all the terrific exposure the city gets and make sure it benefits our community, ' Edmondson said.
There was plenty of exposure to leverage.
Television crews from Al-Jazeera, RTL (Germany) and Channels 7 and 9 (Australia) joined more than 30 British media outlets, including the BBC, to swell the number of credentialed journalists covering Warrior Games to 400. That's double the number of journalists that covered the 2012 Warrior Games, said Beth Bourgeois, associate director of public relations at the USOC, said.
The attention couldn't come at a better time for the Pikes Peak region, which is looking for a tourism rebound after a tough 2012. Colorado Springs gained the world's attention last year for tragedy as the Waldo Canyon fire burned into the city, destroying 347 houses and killing two people.
The Warrior Games and Prince Harry's visit gave a different view of the place.
'A lot of people in the UK may think about coming to Colorado now that wouldn't have before, ' said Marcia Moody, the author of the upcoming book 'Harry: A Biography, ' who came to Colorado Springs from Britain to observe the prince.
The Warrior Games drew Prince Harry because of his commitment to helping wounded troops. The games pit teams of veterans who overcame injury or illness in a number of events held at the Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy.
The prince's visit was a drawing card that increased the profile of the Warrior Games and the city that hosts them.
'We're here because of the prince so there isn't going to be a lot of shots of the mountain in our report, ' New York-based correspondent Sandra Lange of Germany's RTL Network said. 'But a lot people who may never have heard of Colorado Springs will hear about it and see today's beautiful weather. '
'This is such a beautiful place that people in Britain will want to come here, ' said Oxford, England, native Sally Lewis, a longtime resident of Colorado Springs as she watched the games at the academy. 'That's really the main thing. And the weather, compared to England, is so much better. '
Prince Harry said Sunday that he hopes Britain will create its own version of the Warrior Games next year, using the 2012 London Paralympic facilities.
'The Olympics, Paralympics and Warrior Games are all important events, ' he told spectators Sunday at the academy. 'There is no reason that these games shouldn't be as recognized worldwide. '
Colorado Springs reputation as the hub of America's Olympic movement only grew.
'I love this place, ' British cyclist Kushal Limbu said. 'I cannot imagine a place better suited for disabled sports. '
The London Telegraph, BBC News and the Belfast Telegraph covered the Warrior Games extensively, emphasizing the effect they had on Prince Harry and his plans to inaugurate a similar event in England.
Christine Cox, a student from the University of Chichester in West Sussex, England, praised the prince's visit and the Warrior Games on www.gazette.com.
'Well done Harry and the Warrior Games, all inspiring men and women, ' Cox wrote. 'Colorado's next on my state to visit list. '