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Natural Resources & Energy

Wyoming Travel Economic Reports Show Decline In 2020

Photo by Lukas Kloeppel from Pexels

The Wyoming Office of Tourism has released its 2020 Tourism Economic Impact Report and it shows a decline in revenue and visitors last year.

In 2020, Wyoming's travel economy declined 23 percent, while travel across the U.S. was down 36 percent. Nearly seven million visitors in 2020 brought in $160 million in state and local taxes.

Diane Shober, Wyoming Office of Tourism executive director, said that Wyoming's small population and its emphasis on outdoor recreation helped to bring in visitors despite the pandemic. But the industry as a whole still has not recovered from the tough year.

She said businesses and communities worked hard to keep things open and safe, but some were affected more than others because of the nature of the experience.

"Think about events that didn't happen," she said. "We didn't get to enjoy the economic impact of Cheyenne Frontier Days. Up in the northwest corner, some of the river rafting companies didn't even operate because they couldn't social distance on a raft."

Shober said projections for this summer are already looking good.

"The early indications for this year are, this is going to be a really, really good year, in comparison to the good years we had prior to COVID," she said.

Shober added visitors will likely be searching for destinations with low rates of active COVID cases, so continuing to keep the state's numbers down is a priority to ensure a healthy tourism season both physically and economically.

"That's to some degree, the responsibility of us as Wyoming residents, to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves and each other, not only for our own health and well being, but also for the economies that we need so desperately to keep our state healthy and vibrant," she said.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

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