tourism

Catherine Wheeler

Outside of the Harley-Davidson dealership in Gillette, it's actually pretty quiet. Employees are moving around some new demo bikes and there are a couple of shoppers inside. But that's unusual for this time of year.

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Tourism to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks is humming along this summer despite the pandemic, but it appears that out-of-staters are bringing more than just their money with them.

 


National parks in the Mountain West are seeing a surge in visitors. And while tourism can spell good news for struggling local economies, some are worried not only about spikes in COVID-19 cases but also added pressure on the landscape.

A Utah-based company called Domo is showing public health agencies in the Mountain West where their COVID-19 transmission risk is coming from. Among other things, the service uses cell phone location data to identify which counties and states visitors are coming from, and pairs it with data about how bad the local COVID-19 outbreak is there. Public health officials in Southwest Colorado say the tool has shown that at the moment, the most active people in the area are people normally based in Texas, followed by people usually based in Arizona. 

Kamila Kudelska

On an overcast morning, the former owners walked through the gate of what was their home for 20 years.

Sublette County

After a heated and lengthy meeting last Tuesday, the Sublette County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 against the construction of a luxury resort in the small ranching community of Bondurant. The resort would have required a change in local zoning rules, with 43 acres of agricultural land reclassified as recreational.

Kamila Kudelska

In mid-March, right before the COVID-19 pandemic fully hit the United States, professional bullfighter Dusty Tuckness was at Rodeo Houston in Texas. He said it was going well, until soon, it got shut down.

Maggie Mullen


The first time Mark Ritchie and Leah Hardy laid eyes on their new camper, it was after they'd bought it.

"It was like, 'Oh my God, it's tiny.' Which was great," Ritchie said recently while standing outside their home in Laramie, Wyo. "It made me feel actually more confident dragging it around. Because when I see people with giant trailers, I go, 'Thank God that's not me.'"

Leonard J. DeFrancisci via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Park County's tourism numbers are slowly increasing as the state reopens.

Yellowstone National Park kept its gates closed until mid-May and both of its entrances in Wyoming opened for day use only.

Park County Travel Council Executive Director Claudia Wade said since then Cody and the county have seen a steady increase of tourists but nothing like what was originally predicted.

All photos credit to Brittany Patterson, Ohio Valley ReSource

On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background - nature's version of a white noise machine.

Wyoming Art Drop


Last year was the launch of the Wyoming Art Drop, a curated box of six unique pieces from local artists that can be shipped nationwide. Wyoming Public Radio's Megan Feighery spoke to creator Lori Hunter about tourism, upcycling and the unique pressures facing Wyoming artists. She says the first obstacle is location.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Short-term vacation rental bookings are surging across the Mountain West, even as the region grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases.

 


Roger Sylvia; This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Tourism is the second largest industry in the state. The summer of 2019 was a big year for the industry. More than three billion dollars were spent in the state and tourism generated $230 million in tax revenues. Wyoming Office of Tourism Executive Director Diane Shober said the state had set even loftier goals for 2020. But when Shober spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska, she said this year COVID-19 has hit tourism hard but there is hope that things could improve.

Hotel slowdowns alone could cost states in the Mountain West more than $1.7 billion in tax revenue this year, according to an analysis commissioned by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.


Jacob W. Frank / NPS

Tourism is the second largest industry in the state and has been hit hard by COVID-19. Wyoming Office of Tourism's Diane Shober said the tourism outlook for this summer was grim when COVID-19 first hit.

National Park Service

Tourism numbers are helping the state out at a crucial time.

That's according to Gov. Mark Gordon, who in a press conference on Tuesday, June 16, said, business owners across the state are reporting higher sales tax from tourism than what was expected under the ongoing pandemic.

Catherine Wheeler

Gov. Mark Gordon and leaders from some of the top rodeos in the state this month announced the major events would be canceled this year. That's due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health safety measures that would have to be put in place for those events. Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with Billy Craft and Zane Garstad, the president and vice president of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo. First, Craft explained how they came to the decision to put the 90th anniversary celebration on hold this year.

Wikipedia: Cpl. Sean Palmer / Public domain

The annual Fourth of July rodeo event in Cody will take place this year despite other large rodeos canceling in the state.

Yellowstone National Park/Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park and gateway communities in Montana and Wyoming are working to track the spread of COVID-19 as tourists start trickling in.

by Billy Hathorn via CC BY-SA 3.0

A nightly rodeo in Cody is set to start June 20, after a second variance request was approved for the Cody Nite Rodeo. The approved variance allows a maximum of 600 people in the stadium.

Warner Brothers

As major summer events throughout the state get canceled, one more has been added to the list. The Longmire Days festival in Buffalo has called off its in-person activities this year.

The annual festival celebrates the books and subsequent television show about the fictional Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire. The books' author Craig Johnson based the town of Durant, Wyoming on Buffalo.

Catherine Wheeler

What was supposed to be the 90th celebration of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo has been canceled. The cancelation comes in conjunction with several other major rodeos in the state opting to shut down this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people will be permitted in Wyoming this summer. Gov. Mark Gordon announced the revision to a state public health order during a press briefing on Wednesday.

Cheyenne Frontier Days

Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world's largest outdoor rodeo, has been cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history.

Public Domain

Wyoming's unemployment rate more than doubled in a just month, increasing from 3.8 percent in March to 9.2 percent in April. The largest job losses were seen in the leisure and hospitality industry, with Teton County being hit the hardest at 18.3 percent due to their dependency on tourism.

National Park Service; Yellowstone Forever

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks partially re-opened this week and visitors from around the country are already flocking to the celebrated destinations. The parks are not back to normal quite yet as many facilities remain closed including campgrounds, restaurants, and entrances into Yellowstone from Montana and Idaho. In a press conference, Governor Mark Gordon said the goal is not to have the destinations overwhelmed.

Yellowstone National Park/Creative Commons

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer, and an influx of tourists are expected to come through the state to visit some of Wyoming's national parks. But as with everything, this year is a little different.

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The number of U.S. airline passengers is creeping up as states begin to relax their stay-at-home orders, according to the latest data from the Transportation Security Administration.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle

State Parks are opening this weekend to Wyoming residents only. To ensure that this is the case the Department of Outdoor Recreation and State Parks has instituted a reservation process that's only opened to Wyoming residents. Deputy Director Dave Glenn discusses the plan with Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck.

Robert Alescio

Cody has anxiously been waiting for Yellowstone National Park to open up since its economy depends on summer tourism. Mayor Matt Hall said the community is willing to try new ideas.

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