Breckenridge sees silver lining in tourism numbers | SkyHiNews.com

Breckenridge sees silver lining in tourism numbers

Robert Allen
summit daily news

Summit Daily File Photo

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge’s market share among ski towns increased 3 percent last winter as the ski resort regained its title of most-visited in the United States.

The relative success came after gloomy projections in October that winter lodging occupancy could fall as much as 20 percent.

Breckenridge Resort Chamber president John McMahon said Wednesday that $250,000 the town council provided as a marketing stimulus helped to nearly fill the gap.

He said at the annual BRC meeting at One Ski Hill Place that recent branding efforts are having an impact, and members can expect the chamber’s message to become “more and more” refined as new accommodations – such as One Ski Hill Place – expand the pool of potential visitors.

Both McMahon and Breckenridge Mayor John Warner spoke of the need for a sustainable marketing revenue stream. The town’s stimulus was part of $685,000 pulled from the excise fund to make the town competitive with other ski communities.

The town has provided such compensation for the past several years as traditional funding sources have proven insufficient.

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“If we have a council that isn’t a good council like I think we are right now, we could have some real problems,” Warner said.

He said concerns ranging from statewide ballot issues to national health care reform and future town leadership could threaten the its ability to attract tourists essential to the local economy.

Warner and other council members are pushing for a 1 percent lodging tax increase to help sustain marketing funding.

Breckenridge Resort Chamber has 406 members (including 51 new members), down slightly from 416 members in 2009 – but up from less than 400 in 2008.

Statewide, lodging numbers are showing “moderate” improvements in 2010 relative to 2009, said Christine O’Donnell, president of the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association.

She presented recent numbers at the BRC meeting, explaining that “leisure travelers are dictating what rates are going to look like” as corporate travel has become less popular.

Much of the data on room rates, occupancy and more showed a significant dip from 2008 to 2009, but with 2010 year-to-date numbers starting to climb.

For example, Colorado resorts’ occupancy was at 43 percent in 2009; so far in 2010, it’s at 47.7 percent.

“I do think that we’ll see things getting better in 2011,” O’Donnell said.

The BRC’s annual report is available online at: http://www.gobreck.com/members/annual-report.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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