Tourism

A lot of visitors to Colorado figure they might give the state's good ganja a try, but they might not be prepared for the effects. When it comes to bad weed trips, out-of-staters have been doing much worse than Colorado residents and are going to the ER more often since recreational sales of marijuana began in 2014.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

As tourists amble down the halls of La Conte’s Clone Bar and Dispensary in Denver, it’s clear this isn’t your typical tour.

The buzz of fluorescent grow lights is as constant as the strong herbal scent coming from each of the plant-filled rooms. The tour group is a wide mix of ages, races and backgrounds.

They’ve all been brought together by one common thing: legal marijuana.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

National Parks are often known for sweeping vistas and distinctive natural beauty. One thing more of them are becoming known for? Traffic and congestion.

Rocky Mountain National Park has experienced sharp upticks in visitors in recent years. While more visitation is generally seen as a good thing, it also can cause problems. 

F Delventhal / Creative Commons/Flickr

Colorado capped off 2015 with solid job gains and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. The state added 10,700 jobs in December, finishing the year with a historically low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

"The last time we had an unemployment rate lower than that was in May of 2001, when it was 3.3 percent," said Alexandra Hall, Chief Economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Andrew Cooper / SMPSP

When Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman hears about new television shows being set in Colorado, he typically doesn’t bat an eye.

He knows that being “set” in Colorado – at least on the small screen – rarely equates to being “filmed” in Colorado. Like the new Chuck Lorre sitcom. The Big Bang Theory creator’s yet-to-be-named new show, along with Parks & Rec star Adam Scott’s new project Buds, will be set in a Colorado marijuana shop.

“They didn’t even call us,” Zuckerman said. “And the reason is, shows like this are done in a studio… They’re set up for it in LA, and they’re set up for it in New York. It’s more cost effective for them to do it there, even if there is a (tax) incentive.”

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Those visiting Colorado typically cite the state's natural beauty and abundant outdoor activities as their main motivators. But a new crop of tourist just might be making the trek for a completely different reason – legal marijuana.

How the state markets – or doesn't – to that particular traveler is a challenge. One that Cathy Ritter, the state's new director of tourism, says will take time. As 2016 marks the start of the third year of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, there's still a lot that isn't know about its potential impact.

"I can't say that we have a strategy around it," Ritter said. "I think it's something we need to talk about. There's a lot we don't know about the impact of that traveler."

Colorado Channel 165

Text of Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2016 State of the State address, as prepared and delivered, Jan. 14, 2016.

Courtesy of Go NoCO

Four new Northern Colorado tourist attractions – including a film center dedicated to horror movies and a Whitewater Adventure Park - will receive $86.1 million from the Regional Tourism Authority. But the work isn't over yet.

Project organizer Go NoCO was approved for the full $86.1 million it asked for from the state's tourism incentive fund. The next few steps will include "guardrails" – conditions from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade in the agreement, including when certain elements need to be implemented.

"It's been a long haul," said Stacy Johnson, director of economic development for the Town of Windsor and a member of Go NoCO. "We're thankful to the state and the staff for their support and cautiously optimistic as we move forward to create this whole new tourism industry in Northern Colorado."

Mark Jarvis / Flickr Creative Commons

Even with about a month left in 2015, it’s already been a record-setting year for visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. Just over 3.9 million people visited the park between January and October – topping 3.4 million in 2014. Park officials say the number could easily top 4 million if trends continue.

"When you look back at what our visitation was last November and December [2014], we had roughly 170,000 people during those last two months," said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson. "Given that we’re already really close, we’re assuming that we will likely hit the four-million mark – if not by the end of November, then certainly by the end of December."

At this point the park is less than 60,000 visitors away from hitting that milestone.

CDLE

Colorado's economy is continuing its trend of slow but stable growth. Employers added 2,000 jobs in September, and Colorado's unemployment rate edged down 0.2 of a percentage point to 4.0 percent.

"We're continuing to see what I would call 'flat' conditions -- we've been in this 4 to 4.3 percent range all year long, which makes it feel like there isn't a lot going on," said Alexandra Hall, chief economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

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