Colorado National Monument draws more visitors

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The Colorado National Monument is one of four National Parks in the state to have an increase in visitors from 2010 to 2011. The Monument attracted 435,460 recreational visitors who spent $23,251,000 in local communities, according to a new report by the National Park Service.

The report indicates 63 percent of visitor spending went towards lodging, food and beverage service, 17 percent was spent on recreation and entertainment, and 11 percent was spent on other retail.

Kamless Patell, manager of Fruita's Comfort Inn near the base of the Monument, said more than fifty percent of the guests who stay at his hotel during the summer are visiting the Monument.

"We have a lot of hikers, bikers, motorcycle people," Patell said. "We have tourist buses that come from New York who just pass through but make a stop to see the Monument."

Lisa Eckert, Colorado National Monument superintendent, said the park may see even more visitors if the park switches to National Park status.

"I believe especially for the international market, perhaps people hone in on the special units that have National Park in their title or last name."

Nationwide, visitor spending in communities surrounding National Parks had a $30 billion impact and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide.