DENVER – Legal marijuana does not positively or negatively impact tourism in Colorado, according to state officials.
The Colorado Tourism Office revisited the marijuana tourism question after a report presented in December 2015 stated that marijuana laws influenced vacation decisions nearly 49 percent of the time for potential summertime visitors.
Tourism officials described the question posed in the earlier survey as “vague,” pointing out that it did not break down whether marijuana legalization positively or negatively influenced decisions.
The research – conducted by Strategic Marketing and Research Insights – examined the state’s “Come to Life” marketing campaign as part of the study, which includes television, print, billboard and digital ads across the nation.
Questions have been raised whether the campaign or marijuana is driving record-breaking tourism visits. Recreational marijuana was legalized by voters in 2012.
The new findings reveal that 64 percent of targeted travelers 25 years of age and older say that legal marijuana had no influence on their decision to visit.
Fourteen percent of travelers said the availability of marijuana negatively impacted their interest in visiting Colorado, though they visited the state anyway.
Another 23 percent said marijuana positively influenced their decision to visit.
Only 11 percent visited a dispensary and just 4 percent said visiting a dispensary motivated their trip.
Around 33 percent of younger visitors, ages 25-34 – the largest of all age groups surveyed – reported that marijuana positively influenced their decision.
Older travelers, ages 55 and older, were more likely to say marijuana negatively influenced their decision, at 22 percent of those surveyed.
“I wouldn’t say the findings are showing marijuana is having no impact on tourism, I just think it’s less of an impact than what’s been reported,” said Carly Holbrook, spokeswoman for the Colorado Tourism Office.
The report released Wednesday also highlighted that the state once again set all-time records for total visitors, visitor spending and tax generation in 2015.
The state welcomed 77.7 million visitors who spent $19.1 billion and generated $1.13 billion in state and local tax revenue.
The achievement marks the fifth consecutive year the state has seen record-setting growth, with a 31 percent increase in visitation since 2009, nearly double the 16 percent growth in travel nationally.
“The numbers speak for themselves, proving that our state is wise to invest in tourism promotion, and that our innovative marketing initiatives attract visitors who inject more than $1.1 billion into state and local tax coffers,” said Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “It is clear that Colorado’s marketing campaign is not only inspiring travelers, but driving healthy gains in business earnings and job growth.”