<B>By LAUREY LUMMUS</B> <FONT SIZE=-1><I>Staff Reporter</I></FONT>

The city’s convention and tourism industry is doing better business thanother entry-points across the state, according to Terry Sullivan, executivedirector of the Colorado Springs Convention &amp; Visitors Bureau.

On July 10, the Travel Industry Association of Colorado reported that thestate’s welcome centers reported a decrease in occupying rates as opposedto the Springs’ increase of 43%.

Burlington reported a 6% decrease, with Trinidad reporting a decrease of2%. Denver remained essentially the same as last year, with 5.3 million overnightvisitors.

Hotel room rates in Colorado Springs averaged $81 daily, up from $75 thistime last year. Sullivan stated the boom in conventions held in the Springshas paved the way for this room rate increase.

This turn of events has prompted not only tourists, but also prospectivehotel investors to visit the city on a regular basis, according to Sullivan.

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"We have at least one call a week from someone seriously contemplating buildinga new hotel here," said Sullivan.

Sullivan believes three major components are responsible for the city’s increasedtourism numbers, the first and foremost being the aggressive Economic DevelopmentCorporation’s presence here. Another big plus, according to Sullivan, isairport access.

"Every major airline is now flying out of the Springs because we have becomevery accessible," said Sullivan.

Sullivan also states another important reason for the Springs conventionand tourism’s success is the lodging and automobile rental tax, which isdivided between the City and tourism bureau.

In addition, there exists a membership fund that produced another $400,000in revenue, according to Sullivan.

Prior to 1993, when Colorado voters declined to continue supporting tourismtaxation, the budget for the entire state was $10.6 million. Since that time,cities have worked with the tourism board to achieve their particular financialneeds for promotion.