In 2021, 23.7 million people visited the Pikes Peak Region spending $2.6 billion, based on an annual visitor profile study from Longwoods International.

Visitation was up 12% over 2020 and 5% over 2019, and spending was up 18% over 2020 and 3% over 2019. Each quarter, Longwoods contacts a random, projectable sample of adults to participate in the survey who are selected to be representative of the U.S. adult population. The 2021 study for the region included 1,240 overnight visitors and 390 day-trip visitors.

“2019 was a record year for our destination with some of the highest numbers of visitation and visitor spending, so we are pleased to see our 2021 numbers up over both 2020 and 2019,” said Doug Price, President & CEO of Visit Colorado Springs. “With pent-up demand for travel, the roll out of vaccines and many new attractions and businesses, the Pikes Peak Region experienced stronger leisure recovery than most U.S. destinations last year.”

2021 saw the re-opening of The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the opening of the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center and 37 new street-level businesses downtown. Two more City for Champions projects, Weidner Field and Robson Arena, were completed adding to the two projects completed in 2020 – the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and William J Hybl Sports Medicine & Performance Center.

Key findings and analysis from the Longwoods research include:

  • 42% of visiting parties include children compared to the national average of 40%, indicating the destination is slightly above average in terms of family friendliness
  • 72% of overnight travelers were repeat visitors and 47% had visited within the past 12 months, indicating a high level of visitor satisfaction
  • 85% of overnight travelers gave the destination a rating of 4 or 5 out of 5 – “satisfied” or “very satisfied” – with the highest-ranking elements including Quality of Food, Friendliness, Sightseeing/Attractions and Quality of Accommodation
  • 73% arrived in their own car, truck or RV, indicating the region is still predominantly a regional drive destination
  • Day trips outpaced overnight trips (million visitors versus 10.4 million visitors), indicating there is still work to be done to encourage more overnight stays
  • Day visitors spent an average of $57 per day versus $175 per day for overnight visitors
  • Visitors spent an average of nights in the Pikes Peak Region down from 2.6 in 2020, indicating there is still work to be done to encourage longer stays
  • 32% of visitors reported the main purpose of their leisure trip was visiting friends and family – the highest reason followed by touring (17%), outdoors (14%), special events (8%), city trip (6%), casino (4%) and resort (4%)

“The Longwoods data was overall positive, and it also pointed to some helpful areas for growth in our marketing,” said Amy Long, Chief Innovation Officer at Visit COS. “Encouraging overnight stays with longer trip duration will bring higher value to our destination because they boost exploration and spending.”

The main purpose of visitors’ leisure travel is visiting friends and family, which highlights the large role residents play in inviting people to the region.

“If you weren’t born or stationed here, at some point, a person or an organization shared Colorado Springs with you,” said Price. “Now residents are inviting their friends and family to continue the cycle of sharing this great destination. From a workforce standpoint, today’s visitor could be tomorrow’s next star employee.”

The Longwoods Travel USA survey is valuable to Visit COS because it helps the organization better understand domestic visitors to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. The results reveal travel and behavior trends over time and help the team track performance. The information is also beneficial in improving understanding of how the destination compares to the U.S. norm. Visit COS uses the information to make informed marketing, advertising and organizational decisions for future promotional campaigns.