Park County Summer Tourism Forecast – How Busy Will We Be?
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 18, 2021
Park County may not see pre-pandemic tourism for a few more years, but there’s every reason to believe Summer 2021 will be full of tourists and revenue.
As the nation and the world recover from the pandemic, Park County may be positioned better than many other places to recover quickly. Over one-third of the county has been vaccinated and the statewide mask mandate is gone as Wyoming’s COVID climate has improved.
Expecting a return to pre-pandemic tourist numbers isn’t realistic for 2021.
Claudia Wade, Executive Director of the Park County Travel Council, is already anticipating what kind of tourism we’ll see this summer. It’s not bad, but it’s not 2019.
“I think the summer tourism season for 2021 will be much like last year,” Wade says. “I look for July to start being busy, August to be busy, and if weather permits, we’ll have a strong September and October as well.”
At this time last year – March 2020 – there was anxiety across Wyoming over how the year would play out. The biggest shock was when Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks announced their closure on March 25, at the request of many regional leaders and agencies.
The Wyoming entrances opened on May 18, followed by the Montana entrances on June 1. This was immediately accompanied by a steady stream of tourists.
The Park County Travel Council used social distancing to its advantage early last year. Both the county and the state were promoted as places where social distancing is the norm.
Tourism did increase significantly as 2020 progressed. A weak spring transitioned to a fairly busy summer, which led to one of the best fall seasons the region has ever experienced.
“We had quite a few people that made the decision to travel fairly late in the summer which resulted in a very strong fall season. ‘Wide-open spaces’ was the messaging people were able to respond to and create awareness of Park County as a destination.”
So, when will Park County return to pre-pandemic tourism?
“Everything that I have coming across my desk is saying that it’s going to be 2023 before we are a little closer to 2019.”
As for the types of tourists in 2021, Wade anticipates a strong “road trip” presence this summer. As vaccines become more available, more people will take their family car or motorhome on the road.
This was the trend firmly established in 2020. RVs and motorhomes were being sold in record numbers as people wanted to travel to stay safe while doing it.
Wade strongly believes Park County businesses might see a boost in people and can expect to see an increase in revenue, especially as the year progresses. It’s best to prepare for “business as usual” this season.
“We do know our numbers ramp up in May and I think that will happen. We’re still going to be a very popular destination with our wide-open spaces. People might be more comfortable doing more activities and possibly staying longer because they feel safer. I do expect by mid-summer and into fall, we’re going to see some significant traffic.”