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Denver unveils ‘tourism stimulus,’ including attraction discounts

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Written by editor

Attention potential visitors: Denver is on sale.

Attention potential visitors: Denver is on sale.

More than 100 businesses and destinations, from restaurants to cultural attractions to art galleries, unveiled special $52.80 deals Tuesday in an effort to boost area tourism during this economic downturn. The deals, which are expected to last through Labor Day, will be part of a $2 million print, radio and on-line advertising campaign encouraging residents of neighboring states to come to Denver.

The idea of the promotion — billed as a “tourism stimulus” — came from the success of Denver Restaurant Week, when 208 eateries offered a pair of fixed-price meals for $52.80 for two weeks earlier this year and sold more than 298,000 dinners during that time.

But the size and coordination of this campaign, which comes after several months of planning by three committee appointed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, makes it historic in Denver marketing.

“We felt that if we could stimulate tourism traffic to Denver right now, in the short term it will create an influx of new dollars that will turn over many times,” Hospitality Industry Committee chairman and Sage Hospitality Resources President Walter Isenberg said.

The deals include:

Ten hotels offering one-night stays at the regular price and a second night for $52.80.
Sports teams like the Colorado Rockies, Colorado Rapids and Denver Outlaws offering ticket packages for $52.80.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts putting select tickets for five different shows on sale for $52.80 per pair.
Spas, candy shops and gift stores, among other retailers, offering various $52.80 specials on their products.

Richard Scharf, president of Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, said he hopes locals are enticed by the offers but acknowledged that the aim of the campaign is visitors in the states that surround Colorado.

Six of the 11 states with the lowest unemployment figures in the country border the Centennial State, and Denver is the largest city in a 500-square-mile radius. Surveys have shown that families will be spending less on travelling far distances this summer but will not be cutting out vacations entirely.

The advertising campaign – whose target cities include Albuquerque, N.M.; Wichita, Kan.; and Casper, Wyo. – will be funded by revenues from a hospitality tax championed by hotels in 2005.

Hickenlooper, speaking at a wind-blown news conference in front of a new 40-foot video screen advertising the deals at the Colorado Convention Center, said the formula is one that makes sense.

“We can become that city that offers less expensive but higher-quality opportunities,” he said.

To see a full list of the deals, go to www.denver5280deals.com.