Closer look: How many tourists seek Colorado weed?

Closer look: How many tourists seek Colorado weed?

Last fall, a research firm hired by the Colorado Tourism Office surveyed the states visitors and found thatlegal marijuana influenced vacation decisions for nearly half of the states visitors. Marijuana supporters heralded the report as proof that legal weed is a major player in the states $19 billion tourism economy.

Not so fast, says the tourism office: That number is really closer to 23 percent.

Strategic Marketing & Research Insight group admitted the findings released last fall were faulty. At the request of the tourism office, the respondents were re-surveyed to delve more deeply into how they wereinfluenced by the ability to purchase and consume marijuana legally.

In the survey, 64 percent of tourists over the age of 25 reported legal marijuana played no role in their decision to visit the state. About 14 percent of travelers called selling of weed a negative influence but came to Colorado anyway. The remaining 23 percent of people who visited Colorado in 2015 said the availability of marijuana positively influenced their decision to vacation in the state.

Not surprisingly, interest in legal weed was higher among younger visitors. For travelers 55 and older, for example, 22 percent said marijuana sales made them less interested in visiting the state and 75 percent said marijuana had no influence on their decision to visit, comprising 97 percent of that age group. But among travelers between the ages of 25 and 34, 66 percent said marijuana sales either played no role or negatively influenced their decision to visit, while 33 percent said weed was one of the reasons they vacationed in Colorado.

The number of vacationers who said they came to Colorado because of legal marijuana sales was 11 percent, and among that group 39 percent said they visited a dispensary.

That leaves about 4 percent of Colorados 25-and-up vacationers saying they came for the weed and actually shopped for cannabis.

Strategic Marketing & Research Insight breaks down a list of motivating factors for vacations by season. That 4 percent motivation for marijuana mirrors camping, biking, wine tours and horseback riding in the spring-summer-fall months, according to the groups survey results. The top activities that motivated vacationers to book a Colorado vacation in the warm-weather months were scenic drives, visits to state and national parks, dining at restaurants and shopping. In the winter, skiing is the overwhelming motivator for Colorado visitors.

Cathy Ritter, the head of the Colorado Tourism Office ...

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