Editorial Board, May 11 through Sept. 21, 2011
- Scott Stanford, general manager
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Laura Schmidt, community representative
- Jim Miller, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs March sales tax receipts underscore just how important tourism remains to our economy, especially now.
City of Steamboat Springs sales tax revenue was $2.11 million in March — an 8.6 percent increase from the $1.94 million in revenue in March 2010. Excluding the month of December, it was the best sales tax month for the city since March 2008, and it came after January and February were down slightly.
The driving force behind those positive results? Visitors, visitors and more visitors.
Sales tax revenues from the lodging industry increased more than 22 percent in March compared with March 2010, and accommodations tax revenues increased more than 21 percent. Also, tax revenues from businesses at the base of Steamboat Ski Area increased more than 21 percent in March.
Snow is certainly a factor in the March numbers — a ski season with 433 inches always helps. But the lodging industry, which has been discounting rates throughout the dismal economy to attract more visitors, deserves most of the credit. Without the 22 percent bump in lodging, sales tax revenues would have been flat or down to March 2010.
The point to take from the data is that attracting visitors to Steamboat can plug a lot of the city’s economic holes. Holes like unemployment, which was higher in March 2011 (8.3 percent) than in March 2010 (7.6 percent). Holes like gas prices, which approached record levels in March. Holes like home values, which continue to slide, and home foreclosures, which are on a record-setting pace through the first quarter of the year.
Against that backdrop, tourism becomes all the more important. We were encouraged that, in the discussion of a possible $11 million grant for cycling improvements, several Steamboat Springs City Council members focused the discussion on improvements and amenities designed specifically to attract overnight guests.
Heading into summer, we have a number of opportunities to promote Steamboat Springs to tourists through longtime staples such as Strings Music Festival, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, Triple Crown and Free Summer Concert Series as well as new events such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Millennium Promise. We remain a destination for camping, fishing, hiking, golfing, kayaking and biking as well as attractions such as Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Lake and the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
We all have a role in this process. Our job is to live up to the image of Western hospitality that has served us so well. Each of us can help determine the kind of experience guests have while they are here and influence their decisions to return.
As March showed us, it’s an investment that is definitely worth the effort.