CSU: Estes disaster could cost $90 million statewide

FORT COLLINS – The impact of a drop in tourist activity in Estes Park could ripple throughout the rest of the state’s economy, according to a preliminary analysis conducted by the Regional Economics Institute at Colorado State University.

If tourism activity in Estes Park were to decline 70 percent, it could translate into a loss of 1,111 jobs, a $90 million decrease in state economic activity and $46.1 million drop in real household income, according to the study.

In addition, state tax revenue could dip by $5.8 million and local tax revenue by $4.4 million.

U.S. 34 and U.S. 36, the main routes into Estes Park, were damaged or destroyed during historic flooding that began Sept. 11. The restricted access to the town will mean a drop in tourist activity, but the extent of that drop will depend on how quickly the state’s highway infrastructure can be repaired, according to the study.

The report examined a variety of scenarios, including the possibility that tourist visits to the western gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park could drop between 30 and 100 percent, according to a release from CSU.

“We know that tourism is a major drive of Colorado’s economy and the damaging floods will certainly have an impact on access to Estes Park, one of Northern Colorado’s strongest tourist draws, though only times will tell how significant that impact will be,´ said Martin Shields, director of the Regional Economics Institute at CSU, in a statement.

“Our preliminary research, however, indicates that any reduction in tourist visits to Estes Park will have an impact on the state’s broader economy and it could be significant,” Shields added. “We’ve provided some very rough numbers in our report, and more study would be warranted to understand the complete picture.”

Tourists spent an estimated $187 million in Estes Park in 2011. Approximately 56 percent of those visitors were from out of state.

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