Tourism 2020: Not great, but Southwest Colorado dodged a bullet
A year ago, as the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic came into focus, Durangoans who count on tourism braced for what they feared might be a lost season.
While numbers looked grim initially, Durango’s outdoor attractions, its proximity to the San Juan National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park and other outdoor activities proved one of the more benign formulas to weather the viral storm the novel coronavirus delivered in 2020.
“Of course, we were down in the city. For the year, we were down in visitation in occupancy and in lodgers tax collections, but the season certainly was better than we had anticipated initially,” said Rachel Brown, executive director of Visit Durango. “We’re remote, we’re rural, we’re pretty far from an urban center, and those all turned out to be advantages that we maybe didn’t realize a year ago.”
According to Smith Travel Report, occupancy in La Plata County hotels was 47.5% in 2020 compared with 62.1% in 2019.
Lodgers taxes in April 2020, which are based on rooms rented in March, were down 51.5% in Durango compared with the …
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