Small dip in tourism numbers |

Small dip in tourism numbers

President's weekend off 3 percent despite full airplanes

— Steamboat Springs had brilliant blue skies and packed powder to offer the holiday weekend skiers and passengers streaming into Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Friday.

But the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s lodging barometer projects tourism could be off about 3 percent from President’s Day weekend in 2007.

Yampa Valley Regional Airport was expecting 1,345 arriving passengers, with all flights full. Departing flights were expected to carry 903 passengers. The only significant delay at midday was the United Express flight from Chicago, which could not take off on time from O’Hare because of strong winds.

Despite the crowd arriving at the Hayden airport, Chamber officials were expecting only 13,800 people to spend the night in area lodging properties. That number is a decline from the 14,500 guests in town for the corresponding Saturday in 2007.

U.S. 40 hotels are booked solid tonight, and mountain condominiums were at 94 percent occupancy as of Wednesday night.

Barbara Robinson, general manager of the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, said her property is booked solid this weekend and with the exception of some single nights, will remain that way until the ski season airline program tapers off after the first week of April.

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“We are close to 99 percent full until early April,” Robinson said. “Life is good at the Holiday.”

The shortfall from last year appears to be in mountain hotels, where Saturday occupancy is expected to be at 84 percent, compared to 95 percent last year.

Tourism is projected to remain relatively strong in the coming week, with 12,000 guests checked into area lodges Feb. 20. That’s up 400 from the corresponding Wednesday last year.

Early projections for Saturday, Feb. 23, are off substantially, with 75 percent occupancy and 11,300 guests. That compares to 94 percent occupancy and 14,200 guests on Feb. 24, 2007. Last-minute bookings could still move that number.