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
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
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