Memorial Day weekend is just over a week away and with it brings JUCO 2009. Many local businesses are getting ready for the rush.
"We call it our million dollar event,” says, Debbie Kovalik with the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. Kovalik says JUCO never fails to bring in the money. "We will always have that same number of folks coming; we've got our ten teams, their loyal followers."
The influx of visitors is a boost to local businesses and hotels in the area. Carrie Carter with the Double Tree Hotel says this month has already started on a good note "For the first two weeks of May we were solidly booked so we were 100 percent occupancy. We are doing really well in May for the rest of the month," says, Carter.
Historically JUCO packs every vacant room. For some hotels this year things are different.
Eric Lehmann with the Ramada Inn, says "Consistently over the last three years it’s been almost a complete sell out for all hotels. This year we are projecting only about 75 percent on that sell out ratio."
As for business in general in Grand Junction it’s down across the board. Kovalik says, "What we are seeing in the trends that we are seeing is about a 6–8 percent decline in business from 2008."
Hotels think some of that loss comes from the recent pull out oil and gas companies because workers aren't staying in their hotels. Carter says the Double Tree lost some business that way, "That was tough but we have gained business in other areas."
But with gas prices almost half the price from last year officials are still optimistic. Kovalik says, "We are really actually kind of optimistic that mom, dad and the two kids are going to be getting in a car and they'll be coming over here to visit aunts and uncles, grandparents etc..”
According to AAA, more than 2.2 million people will be hitting the road in the mountain region for Memorial Day.