Denver hosted 16.4 million overnight visitors, who spent $5 billion, in 2015. That’s 1 million more visitors than the previous year, and it set a new tourism record for the 10th year in a row.
Since Denver voters approved a lodging tax increase in 2005 to fund increased tourism marketing, the city’s leisure visitor numbers have grown 52 percent, more than double the national average for that 10-year period.
That boost enabled Visit Denver, the city’s tourism and convention bureau, to run visitor-enticing ad campaigns in cities such as Chicago, Phoenix, Houston, Albuquerque and Dallas during the economic downturn, when other cities curtailed tourism promotion.
Denver now is reaping the return on that investment, which “really put us on the map,” Visit Denver chief Richard Scharf said.
“We have moved from a gateway destination to a destination,” Scharf said. “We appreciate being the gateway to the Rockies. But the fact that people want to spend time in Denver, that’s big for us.”