Studies indicate Four Corners Motorcycle Rally to boost local economy

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Durango BID


Studies indicate Four Corners Motorcycle Rally to boost local economy

Motorcycle tourism growing worldwide; communities seizing opportunities

DURANGO, Colo. – There’s a well-warn cliché in Durango, uttered when the signature whistle of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad interrupts conversations as it moves through Downtown: “That’s the sound of money.”

The same could be said for the thunder of thousands of motorcycles as they roll throughout La Plata County on Labor Day Weekend during the annual Four Corners Motorcycle Rally. Simply put, motorcycle tourism is an economic shot in the arm for La Plata County and the region.

“Motorcycle tourism is one of the fastest growing segments in the US and Canada,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director, Durango Business Improvement District (BID). “Communities across the country are actively exploring ways to lure motorcyclists in order to reap the economic benefits. La Plata County is fortunate; we have an established and very popular motorcycle rally that has a significant economic impact.”

For purposes of data collection, “economic impact” is regularly defined as the value added to the local economy by organizing and hosting a special event in the community. In 2010 the Fort Lewis College (FLC) School of Business, at the request of the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce, prepared a report on the economic impact of the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally.

According to the FLC report, the 2010 rally generated an additional (estimated) $1.5 to $2.8 million in income for La Plata County, and an additional (estimated) $30,000 to $45,500 in sales tax revenue. In 2010, the City of Durango received nearly $14,000 in additional lodger’s tax thanks to the rally that attracted an estimated 18,000 participants. Given that motorcycle tourism has increased in recent years, the statistics in the 2010 report would likely be even more impressive today.

“Since Steamworks opened in 1996, the weekend of the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally has consistently been one of the largest revenue generating weekends for Steamworks each year,” said Kris Oyler, Steamworks Brewing Co. co-founder. “While we cater to all visitors on that weekend, we do our best to make the bikers feel welcome.”
A survey done by BDB Rider in 2008 noted that motorcycle tourists’ vacations were 10 to 14 days and riders spent an average $3,100 during their trip. The survey indicated that most motorcyclists are 40-65 years of age, are homeowners and earned an annual income of $75,000 or more.

According to Grady Spann of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, as reported in the Southwest Times Record in Oct. 2012, “…today’s riders are not only older, they are typically more affluent than in earlier years. The projected annual income of the target audience for an upcoming motorcycle trade show in Dallas is $88,000.”

“People have a lingering misconception of who motorcycle riders are… the 1950’s Hollywood creation of the biker ‘bad boy,’ and all that goes along with that,” said Bob Kunkel, the City’s Downtown business development manager, noting that he has a Harley-Davidson and is a member of the local Harley Owners Group. “Bikers who attend regional rallies like ours are tourists on two wheels, and represent significant economic benefits to our local businesses.”

Motorcycle rallies draw thousands of riders to a specific location, but communities all along routes to the destination enjoy the economic impact. For example, motorcycles need to be refueled more often than other vehicles, so the travelers are stopping frequently and purchasing fuel, beverages, food and souvenirs. Additionally, purely the nature of the journey prompts motorcycle tourists to pull off the road more often, visit attractions, restaurants and other unique sites along the way – and leave their dollars in that community.

“In Australia, the province of Victoria has actually put together a ‘Motorcycle Tourism Strategy 2013-16,’ which identifies the niche market, and uncovers opportunities and potential for growth of the sector,” said Walsworth. “And Victoria is not uncommon in its strategic approach to motorcycle tourism. With our amazing scenic rides in Southwest Colorado, we should be right there with them exploring new ways to capitalize on this sector.”

For 2013, in addition to rally activities in Ignacio and Mancos, Durango will host several events designed to increase motorcycle tourism in town. Beyond the traditional Bike and Classic Car Parade on Main on Sunday, Sept. 1, preceded by the Veteran’s Benefit Burrito Breakfast, new events include the El Rancho Street Party on Friday, Aug. 30, 5-9 p.m. (featuring souvenir photos with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge), and the Elk’s Lodge Party on Saturday, Aug. 31, 5-9 p.m.

For complete rally information, visit

For further information about the Durango Business Improvement District, visit


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