Poll: Many Colo. tourism firms foresee off year

DENVER -- About half of Colorado's tourism businesses expect to end this year below last year's figures, according to recent surveys conducted for the Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Ski Country USA.

However, there was good news in the findings. Thirty-seven percent of travelers surveyed on Sept. 12 said they would alter their leisure travel plans but that number dropped to 27% on Oct. 19, showing that consumer confidence is increasing, researchers said.

According to the findings, travelers are more likely to drive and are less likely to take an international trip. But the economy is playing a big role in those decisions.

Frequent skiers said that they are more likely to alter their plans due to economic concerns than for fear of flying.

Of the skiers surveyed, 75% said they are planning to take a ski or snowboard trip this season and 85% said Colorado is the destination they plan to visit. However, only 32% have booked their trips.

"There is huge potential here," said Bill Jensen, chairman of the Colorado Tourism Office board. "We have to reinforce the Colorado brand again and again so that when consumers are ready to act, Colorado will be top of mind."

One survey of Colorado tourism businesses showed businesspeople concerned about access to capital, liquidity, hiring and retaining employees.

One-fifth of those surveyed said they may have to close their operation within a year.

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