Tourism Season is assessed by Park County

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:17 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (PRESS RELEASE) - Cody is one of four gateway communities leading into Yellowstone National Park. As such, tourism is one of the top industries in Park County - and this summer was a mixed bag for the businesses that depend on visitors.

Claudia Wade, the executive director of the Park County Travel Council, pointed out that public health regulations heavily impacted many businesses that rely on tourism.

“I think a lot of the restrictions that we had in Wyoming from the governor impacted our restaurants,” Wade reported. “And it impacted how our attractions operate, in the number of people they let through.”

Dan Miller has headlined a cowboy music show in Cody for the last sixteen years - and he said this year was devastating.

“I’d say we lost in the neighborhood of ninety tour buses that we didn’t get to have this year,” Miller noted. “And I don’t care who you are, you can’t take that kind of a hit and not say it doesn’t affect your bottom line.”

Wade pointed out that outdoor recreation opportunities were hugely popular - which resulted in record high visitation numbers for Yellowstone National Park, as well as for campgrounds in the region. But restaurants and hotels got off to a very slow start this summer.

Fran and Ken Swope own and operate the Carter Mountain Motel, which Fran and her mother built in the late ’60s. Fran said this summer was unlike anything she’s ever experienced.

“We had a lot of cancellations for May, June and part of July,” she recalled. “For August, we were just a little above last year. For September, we’re gonna be just about the same because September got busy.”

Many restaurants, on the other hand, went from zero to 60 from the time they were told they could re-open in mid-May. One restaurant owner said he and his fellow restaurateurs were remarkably busy, despite the regulations that forced them to space out their tables, or move them outdoors.

But for many proprietors, the best they can do is hope that by next summer, they can go back to business as usual.

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