Good summer forecast for colorado springs tourism industry despite headwinds gsa 2016 new orleans

####

As a result, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, an enterprise division of the city of Colorado Springs, is mandating shuttle service for the summer to transport visitors to the top. Visitors will pay the usual summer rates for traveling the highway, but won’t pay extra for the shuttle service.

People will still be able to drive the highway – just not to the summit. The shuttle service’s 15-passenger vans will pick up visitors at parking lots at the 7-mile and 16-mile markers and take them the rest of the way. Vehicles carrying persons with mobility disabilities or children in car seats are exceptions to the shuttle mandate.

Educating people on the options for getting to the top of Pikes Peak will be "a massive communications job," Price says. Area attractions and businesses need to know that message too, he says. Say someone sits down at a restaurant and asks about the Cog Railway and are simply told it is closed. "If that’s all the message that’s going out," Price says, "that’s a problem."

"We have already seen some of that effect," says Tim Haas, president of TAT Enterprises, which owns the Garden of the Gods Trading Post on the edge of Garden of the Gods Park, along with four businesses in Manitou and one in Old Colorado City. "We are fortunate enough to have a lot of bus groups that stop by the Trading Post and have lunch, for example, before they go and take the Cog, and we have had multiple cancellations already."

Construction in the area and continued closure of the Park Avenue bridge, which has significantly cut into parking, are other issues, Haas says. Manitou plans improvements to ease congestion in the town this summer, including using traffic management coordinators to direct motorists to available parking.

Despite the challenges, Haas is positive about the summer. "People, I think, are confident in the economy, they’re spending money, they’re traveling." In the end, minus a catastrophic wildfire or a world-rattling event, "I think it’s going to be a really strong year," he says.

With all of the amenities Cave of the Winds has added in recent years, such as the Wind Walker Challenge Course, the aerial Bat-a-Pult and the Terror-Dactyl ride, the attraction is not an adjunct to a Cog Railway experience but stands on its own, Miller says.

The summer starts with gas prices nearing $3 a gallon, the highest in years. Those rising prices have crimped travel plans this summer as more Americans are planning staycations instead of hitting the road, says GasBuddy‘s 2018 Summer Travel survey. According to the survey, 58 percent said they’ll take a road trip this summer, a 24 percent decrease from last year.

But AAA Colorado doesn’t see higher prices deterring travelers. AAA predicts nearly 760,000 Coloradans will be taking to the roads and skies this holiday weekend – a 6 percent increase over last year and the most in more than a dozen years. "Plain and simple, people just aren’t worried about pump prices," AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said in a news release.

Price says he’s not overly concerned, noting that area prices remain under the national average – and that they’re nowhere near the level they were during the gas crisis of 2008, when hotels would advertise free tanks of gas for registered guests. "I think we’re going to be fine," he says.

And car travel isn’t the only option. Price points to increased passenger traffic at the Colorado Springs Airport, an increase largely fueled by new Frontier flights; outgoing passenger numbers hit a seven-year high last year, up 29.3 percent from 2016,

"The fact that most of the flights that have been added are low cost is good because it fits the family market that we go after, so that’s going to help us considerably this summer," Price says. "I’m not suggesting that more people will fly here than drive here. We will always be a regional drive destination. But having a regional airport that’s going to probably do more than 2 million passengers this year, that’s great for us."

Another plus, Price says, is The Broadmoor’s continuing centennial celebration – and its hosting of the U.S. Senior Open during the peak of that celebration. (The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.)

"We’re going to have a very good year," says Jack Damioli, president and CEO of The Broadmoor. While June 29 marks a century since The Broadmoor’s official opening, the resort isn’t celebrating its birthday with a single party, but with a different event each month, Damioli notes. Among those events: a Centennial Gala Weekend on June 1-3, coming 100 years since Spencer Penrose held a special VIP opening for the hotel. As of mid-May, that weekend was "booking very, very nicely," Damioli says.

Meanwhile, ticket sales for the U.S. Senior Open, June 25-July 1, are pacing ahead of the 2008 Senior Open at The Broadmoor, which welcomed 129,000 fans for the week, says Douglas Habgood, Senior Open executive director. "We also surpassed the overall total in ticket sales for the 2017 U.S. Senior Open in Boston back in December of last year," Habgood said in an email.