July Fourth expected to boom

Despite mid-week holiday, chamber expects logding rush

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There are signs the mid-week Independence Day holiday is stretching into an unusually long weekend for some visitors to Steamboat Springs this year.

Local resort officials are expecting tourism levels to be similar today and Wednesday.

In the past, businesses that depended on tourism have been wary any time July Fourth falls on a Wednesday because it makes it more difficult for some people to take a long weekend from work.

The lodging barometer prepared by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is predicting that 8,376 resort "pillows" will be occupied Saturday, with that number growing to 8,465 by Wednesday.

July Fourth will be more than 30 percent busier than the corresponding Wednesday last year if that forecast comes true.

The lodging barometer foresaw 5,211 visitors to Steamboat on Wednesday, July 5, 2000.

On the other side of that picture, however, Saturday night won't be nearly as busy as July 1, 2000, when the chamber was expecting 10,140 people to visit.

Chamber Marketing Director Charlotte Mills said strong mid-week business will offset the lower peak on Saturday, particularly if both the weekend before and after the holiday are fairly strong.

"It looks like we'll be busy the weekend before the Fourth of July and the weekend after," Mills said. "That was our goal with the Fourth we saw it as an opportunity to build both weekends. It's nice to see that

it's working."

The jury may still be out for July 7. The chamber is currently forecasting that 5,500 visitors will be in town that night, compared to 7,042 forecasted for Saturday, July 8, 2000.

However, there's still time for that number to grow when the chamber releases its next forecast Wednesday.

This weekend's projection means Steamboat's bed base will be 57 percent full compared to a 72 percent occupancy on the corresponding Saturday a year ago. But that statistic is misleading because Steamboat's resort bed base has grown by more than 2,600 pillows over last year.

Mountain hotels are expected to be 68 percent full Saturday night and mountain condos, 49 percent full.

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