As we've reported, State of Colorado and City of Denver tourist agencies have resisted the temptation to use marijuana as a way to lure visitors to the area, despite mainstream media pot coverage that's essentially free advertising.
Against that backdrop comes word that hotel searches for Denver on 4/20 weekend are up 73 percent from this time last year -- and a national cannabis activist thinks the digits might be even higher if officials weren't so shy about embracing weed.
According to a release from Hotels.com, "Denver and the state of Colorado have seen a spike in travel interest since the sale of recreational marijuana was legalized to anyone 21 or older at the start of the year.... Denver has seen a 25 percent increase in hotel searches in the first three months of the year compared to 2013."
The effect of marijuana legalization on tourism is depicted in the following Hotels.com graphic:
Hotels.com points out that Denver was the seventeenth most popular domestic destination for travelers in 2013, and the city could well rise in the ranking thanks to pot. Hotel searches for the weekend of April 18-20, when the main 4/20 festivities will be taking place, are up 73 percent when compared to the same time period in 2013, the Hotels.com release states.
These numbers haven't gotten much of a boost from tourist agencies such as VISITDENVER, whose list of twelve things Denver and Seattle have in common, released prior to the Super Bowl, somehow managed not to mention legal cannabis. This approach mystifies Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority and a close observer of the Denver scene.
"This attention-grabbing press release from Hotels.com is part of a growing recognition by forward-thinking companies that marijuana legalization is increasingly popular with consumers and voters," Angell writes via e-mail. "It's worth noting that the Denver and Colorado's own tourism agencies have themselves been reluctant to tout the state's historic marijuana law as a reason for outsiders to visit. If they were more savvy, we'd likely see even more increased interest -- and the economic benefits that come with it -- in Colorado as a vacation destination.
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"Hopefully they'll come around before too long," he continues. "They'd do well to get on board sooner rather than later, as more states are poised to legalize marijuana this year and in 2016. After that, marijuana consumers will have even more choices for where to spend their precious vacation dollars."
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Marijuana archive circa February 10: "Marijuana tourism is getting mainstream hype whether state officials like it or not."