May short-term rental and lodging sales tax collections are booming despite slight slowdown from April growth |

May short-term rental and lodging sales tax collections are booming despite slight slowdown from April growth

Year-over-year category sales tax collection increases hit quadruple digits one year after the height of the shutdown

Visitors and residents walk along Main Street in Breckenridge on July 2. So far this season, local lodging companies and organizations are reporting strong occupancy numbers and are optimistic for the rest of the summer.
Photo by Tripp Fay / Tripp Fay Photography

Summit County continues to make a steady comeback in its sales tax collections as the local economy rebounds from the pandemic. Though significant growth is still happening, recent sales tax reports show that collections from short-term lodging, hotels and inns stalled slightly during May in some areas.

According to Frisco’s sales tax report, the town’s collections for the month were up 45% compared with May 2020, which is a slight dip compared with sales tax collection growth the month before. The town’s April report showed its collections were up 55% compared to the same month in the prior year.

When looking at how the town’s sales tax collections broke out across various categories, vacation rentals were up 2,282% compared with May 2020, when the county was essentially closed to visitors, but the hotels and inns category was down by about 15%.

Silverthorne’s report shows similar numbers. Overall, the town was up 27% compared with May 2020, but that’s a slowdown in collection growth from the month prior, when April 2020 was up 52% compared with the same month a year before.

Lodging was still up in May by about 1,680% compared to last year but that’s a slight decrease from reported growth in April, when lodging collections were up 1,783%.

So what caused this slight dip in sales tax growth from April to May?

Toby Babich, president of Breckenridge Resort Managers and president of the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, noted that business was booming but attributed the dip to an early start to the county’s spring shoulder season.

“I would say that the late season snow and the early closing of the ski area probably had some contribution to the numbers not performing as well,” Babich said. “The other thing is — and something that I think we all need to be aware of, as well — are events are just starting to get back into gear.”

During May, not as many events were happening around the county as pandemic restrictions were just beginning to loosen. Babich noted that this likely factored into how sales tax collections from short-term lodging played out but noted that he expects June to report stronger numbers.

Bruce Knoepfel, owner of Frisco Inn on Galena said his inn performed “very good” in May as well as the months following. Knoepfel said business has been so good that he’s never seen activity like this since the company has been in operation since 1985.

He believes sales tax collection differences have to do with guest trends and said his hotel offers the type of accommodations people are looking for when traveling.

“(It’s) the fact that we’re a small 15-room, service-oriented hotel which is the market that people are looking for,” Knoepfel said. “I don’t think they are looking for large hotels. They want small, intimate experiences.”

Babich said, from his perspective, he isn’t seeing the same guest trends Knoepfel is experiencing.

“Whether people are looking for unique spaces and trying to stay out of congested lodging options, I haven’t seen that at all,” Babich said. “We manage … stand-alones, single-family homes, condos inside condo complexes. We’re not seeing any COVID-aversion (and) safety concerns that are driving people to choose one property over another right now. That’s not anything I’m seeing.”

In Breckenridge, the sales tax report showed strong sales tax collections in its short-term lodging. According to its most recent report, short-term lodging collections were up 4,557% compared to May 2020 and up 175% compared to the same month in 2019 — before the pandemic.

Its other high-performing industry was retail, which was up 122% compared to May 2020 and up 53% compared to May 2019.

Though both Frisco and Silverthorne’s reports showed a dip in short-term rental sales tax collections compared with April, each town did report strong numbers in other categories. Frisco’s arts and crafts category showed a 428% increase in collections in May compared to the same month last year. It’s health and beauty category saw a 268% increase during the same time frame.

Some of Silverthorne’s strongest categories were its online retail industry, which saw a nearly 50% increase in May compared to May 2020. Its food and liquor industry saw a 49% increase during the same time period.

The town of Dillon doesn’t break out its report into various categories, but its report did continue to show a steady increase in sales tax collections. Dillon reported a 20% increase in sales tax collections compared to May 2020. It’s lodging tax was also up 55% compared to the same month last year.

As for Summit County’s sales tax collections, the government entity reported it was up 99% compared to May 2020, which is a slight decline compared to April’s report. In April, the county reported that its sales tax collections were up 162% compared to April 2020.

2021 sales tax collections in Summit County towns are shown through May.
Graphic by Taylor Sienkiewicz /

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