How to capitalize on the growing market for cannabis tourism in the US

  • Cannabis tourism, the place prospects search out experiences and journey centered round marijuana, is an rising trade that consultants imagine will solely proceed to develop post-pandemic.
  • Colorado noticed spikes in dispensary gross sales after March and April, outperforming previous 12 months’s figures and proving that cannabis companies can survive even the hardest financial environments.
  • Entrepreneurs wanting to capitalize on the pattern ought to focus on market consciousness and correct protocol.
  • Michael Cohen, founder and president of The Pass, which operates out of The Berkshires, sees potential in locations the place cannabis is much less thought off, resembling exterior Colorado and California.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

Cannabis tourism, or journey and experiences influenced by the legalization and use of marijuana, is a market filled with promise that now finds itself in an area rife with change due to COVID-19. Yet a number of consultants in the subject imagine that it’s going to proceed to present promise going ahead. 

Particular early adopters of cannabis reform legal guidelines have already seen the advantages of a tourism market.

Colorado, which handed adult-use legal guidelines in 2012, thought-about authorized cannabis a major a part of its tourism market by 2015. That 12 months, a report commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office discovered that marijuana legal guidelines influenced practically half of potential vacationers to the state, though a revised model of the survey corrected the determine to 23% of holiday makers. 

A 2020 survey by MMGY Travel Intelligence and Enlightn Strategies of 1,5001 respondents in cannabis journey discovered pursuits in a variety of actions, from visiting a dispensary to consuming numerous merchandise. Additional experiences talked about embrace CBD spa therapies, infused eating, cannabis bus events, and guided excursions.

The survey went on to forecast that these in marijuana-related trip actions make up 29% of all leisure vacationers, with Americans comprising 18% of that pool.

Alex Levine, chief growth officer of Colorado’s Green Dragon dispensary model, reported that Colorado’s tourism market continued growing over the years. Levine stated firm exercise throughout its 15 areas in the state revealed that almost all cannabis tourism exercise occurred in the Denver space with its guided excursions, consumption buses, “bud and breakfasts,” and different occasions. 

“Although there are a lot of tourists in Colorado’s mountain towns, those travelers are typically not on cannabis-forward tours,” Levine stated, including that many vacationers nonetheless do buy cannabis whereas on their journeys exterior of Denver.

Tourism exterior of Colorado is growing as effectively. Victor Pinho, CEO of California’s Emerald Farm Tours, advised Business Insider that the six months earlier than the coronavirus pandemic noticed the tour firm experiencing its most substantial development since its 2018 launch. “We were witnessing 200% growth month over month in the last six months of full operations,” Pinho stated.

Post-COVID-19 forecasts and developments already underway

While cannabis proved to be an important trade that may climate the results of the virus to a sure diploma, its journey sector was not one to achieve this. 

“I think the real question here is when will the circumstances around COVID-19 be such that people feel comfortable returning to shared travel experiences at all,” Pinho stated.

The tour operator believes that creating new and distinctive experiences that decrease COVID-19 danger are important for tourism companies. “Most aspiring entrepreneurs in this sector will want to craft unique tour experiences with farms and manufacturers that want to expose their products to the market,” he stated.

While operators ponder steps to contend in the present market, dispensaries reported regular development in a number of states, notably Colorado. In March and April, the state noticed declines that have been countered with the following three months outperforming previous 12 months’s figures. The outcomes have been in opposition to the expectations of firms like Green Dragon. 

“Our retail sales in June reached an all-time high, with multiple stores up by more than 40% from the previous June,” Levine stated, crediting the state’s important standing of cannabis as a major issue. 

Levine added that the gross sales figures revealed a market in native tourism. “People want to travel to nearby areas where they can drive to versus going on a plane,” he stated. 

Travel and gross sales in mountain cities like Breckenridge and Telluride are performing effectively, in accordance to Levine. “I predict that domestic travel will continue to be an important opportunity for the cannabis tourism sector in the coming months,” he stated.

Tips for aspiring cannabis tourism operators 

The sector faces a slew of hurdles. That stated, operators like Pinho and Levine see promise in their areas, as do others in markets the place cannabis tourism has not but gained a footing. 

Michael Cohen, founder and president of the vertically-integrated model The Pass, operates out of The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Cohen stated that cannabis-centric tourism hadn’t reached his market. The lack of exercise comes regardless of dispensaries serving out-of-state patrons from close by New York and Connecticut. 

That stated, the operator sees the sector taking form in time. “The complementary value propositions of cannabis and The Berkshires are a beautiful and unique marriage of nature and culture,” Cohen stated.

The development of further tourism markets might hinge on market consciousness, with the MMGY/Enlightn survey revealing that over half of its 1,500 respondents cited solely Colorado and California as authorized cannabis markets. Currently, 11 states have handed adult-use legal guidelines. 

Besides market consciousness, operators stress that any enterprise have to be up to code. Pinho highlighted insurance coverage and legal responsibility safety as musts for an proprietor, as is a trusted authorized professional in drafting launch varieties and buyer contracts. 

Others, like Levine, imagine that operators ought to look past the novelty issue. “Cannabis tourism is definitely temporary because as more states legalize cannabis, fewer people will visit another state just to get access to legal cannabis,” he stated. 

“It’s important that future entrepreneurs offer an experience that goes beyond cannabis.” Levine added. “Places like Colorado will always have cannabis tourism because Colorado itself will always be a draw for tourism in general.”

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