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Recent Economic Data Indicates a Busy Summer Could Continue in Park City


Recent economic and lodging data indicates the crowds seen in the Wasatch Back this summer are likely to continue, and could even increase.


After a year of business restrictions and tourism in Park City taking a big hit during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, data released this week by the Park City Chamber Bureau and Park City Municipal points towards a sharp turnaround this summer.


Lodging projections through the end of August are crushing the same period of 2020, and are even outperforming pre-pandemic levels in many cases, according to data compiled by the chamber bureau.


From July 1st to August 31st, lodging reservations on the books are roughly double those of 2020 levels. The report does not include reservations made after June 15th.


Another key economic forecaster is monthly sales tax data from the Utah State Tax Commission. The most recent numbers available show the best April on record, up a whopping 121% from April 2020. It is worth noting, however, that the most severe pandemic lockdowns were still in place last April.


Deputy City Manager Sarah Pearce Told KPCW that with April a traditionally slow month in Park City as the ski season ends and the bulk of summer tourists wait for warmer weather, the record numbers are a strong indicator of what’s to come later in the year.


“It is incredible to see these reports,” said Pearce. “April is normally a pretty low month for us in general, but it’s telling, it’s a positive step toward our economic recovery after COVID.”


That recovery can already be felt in the form of traffic on Park City’s roads and the return of many events that were cancelled last year due to COVID-19. 


Park City saw the return of Fourth of July festivities earlier this month as well as the Triple Crown youth softball tournament, which is currently running from July 12th-25th.


Triple Crown has historically brought around 7,000 visitors to Park City over the course of the event, and data shows a significant spike in lodging numbers over this year’s tournament period compared to one year ago.


Although more people means more money flowing into the city, there can be negative side effects to the influx of visitors.


The city is in the middle of several road improvement projects and the number of cars on the road has increased congestion and commute times in the mornings and afternoons.


Additionally, Utah has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases since early June, largely driven by people who are unvaccinated. The highly-contagious delta variant has also become the dominant COVID-19 strain for new statewide infections.


Phil Bondurant will be taking over as Summit County Health Director in August and told KPCW it’s still important to remember the risks of COVID-19 -- even if you are fully vaccinated. 


“I think there’s a risk with everything that we do, so what I would advise is to take those precautions that we know of social distancing, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, and protecting those that are around you,” he said.


Other big community events like the Kimball Arts Festival are scheduled to return later this summer, and events like concerts and farmers markets are scheduled every week.


A calendar of summer events in Park City can be found here.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.