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Economic impacts of bike tourism in Colorado

Number of tourists engaged in bicycling 699,000 (just over 50% of all summer visitors). Of these bicycling tourists, 70% were from out of state.

From The Economic Impact of Bicycling in Colorado, 1999; download complete study (pdf 278kb)

Map of Colorado

Bicycle-related Tourism

Tourism in an important part of the Colorado economy and outdoor activities play an important role in choosing Colorado as a tourist destination. We conducted a survey of Colorado ski area resort companies and Chambers of Commerce to assess the impact of bicycling tourists on summer revenues at the ski areas. We also obtained information from our household survey regarding bicycle-related vacations taking in and out of state.

"Total revenue by cycling tourists at Colorado resorts is between $141 million and $193 million."

Summer Bicycling in the Ski Areas

The ski areas have become some of the most lucrative tourist attractions in 1998 (Runyan and Associates 1998). To accommodate the visitors generated by this sport, many mountain areas in Colorado have invested in ski lifts, mountain maintenance, lodging, restaurants, and facilities for entertainment and other visitor activities. Heavily used during the ski season, these facilities were unused or underused in warm-weather months; and many resort towns have responded by promoting summer activities.

A report prepared by Colorado Ski Country U.S.A. identifies the summer recreational activities provided in many of Colorado's resort towns. As the most frequently mentioned recreational activity available (along with fishing and golfing), ninety percent of the resorts surveyed by Colorado Ski Country U.S.A. indicated that visitors could engage in mountain biking in the summer. However, retail facilities are not always available to support these activities. The same report indicates that there are no bicycle rental shops in 20 percent of the resorts and only slightly over half of the resorts allow bicycles on their lifts.

Our survey of ski resort operators and towns indicated that 699,000 visitors traveled to Colorado mountain resorts in 1998 and participated in bicycling activities. Approximately 70 percent of these bicyclists came to resort towns from out-of-state. Tourists who engaged in bicycling during their vacation at a Colorado resort spent between $141 and $193 million dollars. Of the 699,000 who bicycled during their stay, 276,400 were attracted primarily by the availability of bicycling. Our estimates of the total vacation expenditures by these bicyclists range from nearly $56 million dollars to just over $76 million dollars. These estimates reflect direct expenditures only on bicycling.

These expenditures on bicycling create jobs for those who provide these goods and services. Direct bicycle-related employment consists of those individuals who provide bicycle rental, sales and repairs, those who operate the lift for bicycle riders, those who are employed to organize bicycle events, and those who are employed to deal directly in other ways with bicycle riders in resort towns. Responses from resort ownership, chambers of commerce, event organizers and retail bicycle establishments provide the employment and payroll information summarized here.

The nine resorts reporting bicycle activity indicate that 65 full-time summer employees (21.6 full- year FTE) are engaged in providing direct bicycle-related services to visitors. Payroll for these employees during the summer season when they provide these services is $531,000.

Retail bicycle shops located in the resorts also provide direct bicycle-related employment. We surveyed 31 shops in the resort areas (both specialty shops and locations of chain sporting goods stores) that account for over 75 percent of the resort bicycle shops. We estimate that retail shops in resort towns in Colorado employ 82 FTE at a payroll of $3 million.

Visitor Expenditures and Employment in the Colorado Ski Areas

Tourists engaged in bicycling create employment not just because there are workers needed to provide bicycle-related services, but also because these tourists require other goods and services as well. This is a measure of the indirect bicycle related employment. In the section above, total spending by tourists engaged in bicycling was estimated to fall between $141 million and $193 million each summer.

The midpoint of the lower- and upper-bound expenditure estimates is $167 million. These expenditures are estimated to support the employment of 2,488 year-long (FTE) or 7,465 summer- only individuals earning a total of approximately $39.4 million.

Bicycle Advertising by Ski Resorts

Most of the resorts have recognized the importance of encouraging summer visitors and have large advertising budgets to attract these tourists. Total expenditures on advertising that specifically promoted bicycling were $316,000 for the 1998 summer season. Average spending on the promotion of bicycling per resort is slightly less than $40,000 per summer season. This includes one resort that reported no expenditures in 1998 but indicated that they were developing a campaign and budget for future years.

Bicycle-Related Vacation Spending by Colorado Residents

To capture bicycle-related vacation spending in areas other than ski resorts, we surveyed Colorado households to gather information on any vacations they may take (both in-state and outside of Colorado) that are related to bicycling. Nearly 10 percent of Colorado households indicated that they had taken a bicycle-related vacation within Colorado in the past 12 months.

Among those households who did, the typical household spent $360 per vacation. Spending on bicycle-related vacations within Colorado totaled $48 million dollars over the past 12 months. (It should be noted that these expenditures include those that Coloradoans make on bicycle-related vacations at the ski resorts).

These vacation expenditures also generate jobs for Colorado employees. Specifically, $48 million of vacation spending creates 755 FTE jobs for workers who supply goods and services for vacationers. These 755 employees earn approximately $10 million in income as a result of these expenditures. Though not providing a direct impact on the Colorado economy, our survey also provides information on bicycle related vacations that Colorado residents take outside the state. Just under 5 percent of Colorado households indicated that they had taken an out of state bicycle trip and on average spent $950 per trip.

Summer vacationers in Colorado often bike in the high country. Nearly $167 million is spent by vacationers who bicycle in Colorado ski areas. This spending creates over $39 million in income for 2488 FTE employees, both in the retail bicycle or bicycle service industries and in industries that provide general services to tourists. Nearly 70 percent of the visitors to these mountain towns are from out of state. Total vacation spending by Coloradans is $48 million per year. This supports 755 FTE at a payroll of $10 million. There is some bicycle-related tourism that is not included in our calculations. Specifically, out-of-state tourists who bicycle, but do not visit Colorado ski areas are not part of our vacation estimates.

Research consulted

Longwoods International, 1998. Travel and Tourism in Colorado: A Report on the 1997 Travel Year. Prepared for the Colorado Tourism Board and the Colorado Travel and Tourism Authority.

Dean Runyan and Associates, 1998. Colorado Travel Impacts: 1997. Prepared for the Colorado Tourism Board and the Colorado Travel and Tourism Authority.

Methodology

Beginning in the Fall 1998, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) contracted with the Center for Research in Economic and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Colorado Denver, to conduct phone and mail surveys of bicycle manufacturers, retail bicycle shops, and ski resort operators in Colorado. This information is used to summarize the impact of bicycling on the Colorado economy in the form of production, sales, jobs, income and tax revenue. In Spring 1999, CDOT and CRESP sent nearly 40,000 surveys to randomly selected Colorado households. The nearly 6,000 completed surveys provide a wide range of information regarding bicycling behavior, attitudes and preferences.

Dowload the complete Economic Impact of Bicycling in Colorado (pdf 278kb)

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