Tourism expected to boom after holidays

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The number of visitors arriving in Steamboat Springs is only expected to increase after Christmas weekend, according to the lodging barometer released Wednesday by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

The chamber expects 10,600 visitors to spend Saturday night in Steamboat, representing a total lodging capacity of 69 percent. Sarah Hoeller, administrative assistant for the chamber, said that number probably will go up as Saturday approaches.

"Even though it's Christmas, we're still going to get some last-minute fills," Hoeller said.

But it's the couple of days after Christmas that will pack town to capacity.

"It's the 26th and 27th that are the huge arrival days," Hoeller said. "It's going to be really busy."

The chamber anticipates 13,900 visitors in town Wednesday evening, a number that translates to 91 percent occupancy. Mountain condos are expected to be at 99 percent capacity Wednesday.

"We're going to be basically at full capacity, which is awesome for our economy," Hoeller said.

Bookings at Steamboat's Holiday Inn mirror the projections made by the lodging barometer. Front desk employee Lynn Hassig said the hotel has about 20 of its 82 rooms available for Saturday evening. But the Holiday Inn will be at or near capacity during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

The lodging barometer projects slightly more than 10,000 visitors remaining overnight in Steamboat on Jan. 1.

Because Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, it's more difficult to compare projected lodging occupancies with those of previous years, Hoeller said. This year's calendar isn't ideal for lodging properties, either.

Visitors tend to book longer vacations when Christmas falls mid-week as opposed to the weekend. The calendar has left gaps in hotel and condominium bookings, and many lodgings are offering discounted rates for people interested in filling certain dates.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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