Denver: Questions and Answers March 23, 1998 Share 1 -- Eugene Dilbeck, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, discusses area trends and developments with Travel Weekly contributing editor Helen Brower. TW: How did the various travel sectors fare in 1997 and what are you projecting through the end of the decade?Dilbeck: The city registered the highest hotel occupancy ever--72%--and the highest average room rate which, for the first time ever for downtown hotels, broke $100. 1997 was also the best year for conventions in the city's history with 44 groups attracting 190,000 delegates. By all indications, travel to Denver will increase through the end of the decade.TW: What are the new attractions travel agents should be telling their Denver-bound clients about?Dilbeck: Elitch Gardens has added Island Kingdom and other new attractions, and this October, the Denver Pavilions retail and entertainment center will be inaugurated. Ocean Journey Aquarium and Sea Life Park and the Stadium Walk shopping and entertainment complex will both open next year, and the Pepsi Center basketball and hockey arena will kick off in time for the 1999-2000 sports season.TW: How are you promoting relatively untapped but potentially lucrative travel markets?Dilbeck: We are promoting Denver--the largest city in a 600-mile radius--as a regional destination, through newspaper advertising to encourage impulse weekend travel. With low-cost carriers such as Western Pacific and Frontier offering coast-to-coast service (and matching fares from major carriers), Denver is now a very attractive weekend getaway for people who want to combine the big-city experience with skiing or other outdoor recreation in the nearby Rockies. Denver offers the best theater, shopping and nightlife for people within that 600-mile radius, as well as four major sports teams, museums and other attractions.TW: What kind of a year was 1997 for the Denver airport and what new facilities are being added there?Dilbeck: The airport had a banner year. Although figures haven't been completely tallied yet for December, we estimate that passenger count for the year exceeded 35 million. Parking facilities will be expanded this year to accommodate traffic increases, and new airport hotels, including a 500-room Westin, are being developed. ***Additional NoteA visit to Colorado might be just the ticket for clients who are trying to lose weight. A recent federal report revealed that while half of all American adults have a weight problem, in Colorado, where the active lifestyle reigns, the overweight population is less than 20%.