VCB manager: 2015 a good year for tourism

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Last year was a good year for the tourism industry in the Grand Valley. This year could just as good if not better, according to the division manager of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau.

“I strongly feel the tourism sector has turned the corner,” said Barbara Bowman.

In reviewing the annual report for 2015, Bowman said several of the metrics the VCB tracks reflect increased tourism business — lodging tax collections in particular.

Lodging tax collections, a key measure of hotel and motel stays, totaled almost $1.4 million for 2015. That’s a 9.1 percent increase over 2014 and the highest level since 2009, Bowman said.

Hotel and motel occupancy rates edged up, while the average daily rate they charged and the revenues they earned also increased, she said.

Social media plays an increasingly important role in promoting tourism, Bowman said. For 2015, there were more than 1.8 million page views on the VCB Web site at www.visitgrandjunction.com and more than 10,600 Facebook fans.

VCB efforts to promote the Grand Valley through television, radio and print coverage resulted in a total of 300 million public relations impressions, Bowman said.

The VCB worked with 262 international tour companies in bringing tours and international travelers to the region, she said. International travelers tend to stay longer and spend more money than domestic travelers, she added.

The VCB allocated a total of $85,000 to support 18 special events held throughout the Grand Valley during 2015, Bowman said.

As for 2016, national research predicts another “strong year” for tourism bolstered in part by the prospect of comparatively low gasoline prices, Bowman said.

Grand Valley hospitality and tourism businesses will benefit from a number of events and conferences planned for the area during the coming year, including large soccer and softball tournaments and an off road mountain bike race. The VCB also is working with a various groups on upcoming conferences, including the Colorado State Square Dance Association.