The phrase “Rocky Mountain high” took on new meaning two years ago when recreational cannabis stores opened their doors. Many of them, especially the ones near downtown Denver, the airport or in the resort areas, have reported very strong tourist business, though Colorado has never really acknowledged the draw.
This week, the state released data from a study conducted by Strategic Marketing & Research Insights that many believed showed that in fact tourism has benefitted from cannabis legalization. The study tracked the success of the “Come to Life” campaign. The Denver Post ran a headline: “Marijuana has huge influence on Colorado tourism, state survey says”
The Colorado Tourism Department’s Director Cathy Ritter, however, issued a statement to the Denver Business Journal that Colorado has no interest in marketing to what officials consider an insignificant niche of marijuana-seeking visitors.
Ritter said that legalized cannabis is as much a detractor of tourism as a catalyst, citing the data from the survey. She also reveals the real reason for her department to downplay the significant potential: The department believe that it is federally illegal to advertise outside of Colorado:
Right now I wouldn’t say there would be a compelling argument, even if it were legal, for the Colorado Tourism Office to target the traveler because it’s such a small segment. And it carries as many negatives as it does positives.
Read Ed Sealover’s “Colorado tourism director: Marijuana is not a major draw for state”: http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2015/12/10/colorado-tourism-director-marijuana-is-not-a-major.html