Some Durangoans have complained since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge came through town that the race didn’t bring the expected revenue and number of visitors as promised, but revenue for the city in 2012 is up.
Lodgers tax and sales tax had the largest increases since 2008 when the Great Recession hit Durango. Sales tax was up 5.7 percent in 2012, compared with 3.8 in 2011. Lodgers tax saw an increase of 6.3 percent compared with 1.9 percent in 2011.
With two new hotels slated to open in 2013, local businesses say they expect 2013 to see another increase but not a drastic one.
“I think things will continue to grow, but I think the pace is going to be very sluggish,” said Eric Kiesel, owner of Half Price Tees, a T-shirt shop on Main Avenue. “I think tourism is still going to struggle a little bit. When looking at a family of four, it’s expensive to go on vacation.”
Kiesel said his store was up about 7 percent in sales in 2012, but his costs have also increased, making it harder to gain a profit.
Ridership at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rose almost 1 percent in 2012. The seasonal Polar Express carried a little more than 19,400 passengers, said Andrea Seid, marketing manager for the train, in an email to The Durango Herald.
“We are hopeful for the 2013 season. With gas prices coming down, hopefully, that will encourage those in our drive markets to make the trip,” Seid said.
The Durango Chamber of Commerce is also expecting Durango’s drive markets to increase revenue next year, said Executive Director Jack Llewellyn.
The city of Durango said the USA Pro Cycling Challenge would boost revenue and attract 20,000 to 25,000 visitors. But the city later estimated only 13,000 spectators came out on race day.
“It didn’t bring as many people as it was promoted to bring in ... but any sporting event tends to get pretty good legs in Durango,” said Peter Marshall, general manager of the DoubleTree Hotel. “People love to come to Durango to attend tournaments.”
While most businesses reported smaller growth numbers, the Durango-La Plata County Airport saw another big year with a 6.6 percent increase in revenue passenger enplanements.
Durango Mountain Resort said it had one of its best summer and fall seasons in 2012. New summer activities and an increase in weddings and corporate events drive that, said Kim Oyler, spokeswoman for the resort.
“With this winter season, we saw a slow start, but we ended the year with a strong holiday season across the board,” Oyler said. “We ended 2012 with pretty strong retail sales and lodging.”