Breckenridge officials take data and look ahead to winter tourism for 2022-23 season
As snow is expected to dust the highest peaks in Summit County later this week, Breckenridge town leaders are looking ahead to see what the winter season could look like when it comes to visitors.
Breckenridge Tourism Office CEO Lucy Kay said that bookings around Christmas are currently lower, but the first two weeks of January are stronger than usual. At 8:30 a.m. Oct. 27, the tourism office will host a winter preview where the Breckenridge Tourism Office and Breckenridge Ski Resort will share their insights around the current state of the tourism industry, its winter marketing strategies and occupancy trends. The preview will be broadcast virtually and held in-person at Breckenridge Town Hall, 150 Ski Hill Road.
“Looking forward to the Christmas holiday this year, it’s on Sunday,” Kay said during the Town Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27. “When Christmas is on Saturday or Sunday, that always means a shorter, less busy holiday just because of travel patterns in school breaks through later this year. A lot of colleges don’t get out until (Dec.) 23.”
Over the summer, Kay said a little more than 60% of guests were overnight visitors from outside of Colorado, and 24% were overnight visitors from within the state. Kay said that looking forward, more travelers are wanting to make up for a lack of international travel because of pandemic restrictions, so that could influence domestic travel. Currently, the Denver International Airport is the third busiest in the world.
“People will go back to traveling the way they used to travel,” Kay added. “There’s going to be a correction, and then it’ll balance out against it. So I think we’re going to see an outflow or downward pressure on the number of visitors that we’ve had here — in the last two years anyway.”
As for Oktoberfest, Kay said it is too early to have attendance numbers or estimates as to how many people visited Breckenridge during the festival, but she does think that the town had about the same or fewer people in 2019. Last weekend was the first year that the party returned to Main Street for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Summit County, along with other mountain communities, experienced a dip in business over the summer. Among 17 mountain destinations, Destimetrics reported that occupancy from May through October is down 9% compared to last year at the same time, with July and August experiencing the largest drop — 12.3% and 17.7% respectively.
Finance Director Dave Byrd told Town Council that Breckenridge is still running “quite a bit ahead” of budget on sales tax year to date — about $8.6 million — and also ahead of 2021 by about $6 million. The accommodation tax is still strong, with $1.4 million over budget and $800,000 ahead of last year. Real estate transfer tax is also ahead of budget by $1.8 million, but down from prior year by $1.6 million.
“If I look at net taxable sales, just as a general overview, we are still running about 40% higher than 2019 year to date, which is really strong,” he said.
Going into 2023, Byrd said that there could be some slowing because of the economy. Town Manager Rick Holman said that the first few months of the year are carrying most of the $8.6 million ahead, when many visitors were in the town.
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