Travelers in Colorado set yet another record in 2018, but this time tourist spending eclipsed sheer numbers.

Colorado Tourism Office research released Thursday shows Colorado travelers spent $22.3 billion in 2018, a nearly 7% increase over the previous year while overall visitation numbers remained flat. The numbers indicate the tourism office’s two-year campaign to lure spendthrift visitors to less-trafficked corners of the state is gaining ground.

“I think this shows the plan is working,” said tourism office director Cathy Ritter, who three years ago launched a statewide listening tour to help craft a “tourism roadmap” designed to guide travelers off beaten paths while encouraging visitors to help protect Colorado’s natural resources.

Back in 2016, on the heels of six years of record-setting numbers of visitors, Ritter was hearing from Colorado residents weary of the impacts of all those travelers. In 2017, the Colorado Tourism Roadmap pivoted the state’s clarion call for tourists into a more focused campaign promoting sustainable travel experiences.

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