The Park City Chamber Bureau is funded by the transient room tax, but vacationers who are the source of that revenue have been in short supply this summer season. Event cancellations and the uncertainty about resorts opening for the winter season, makes for a very difficult economic forecast.
Newly appointed Park City Chamber Bureau president Casey Metzger says businesses will have to get creative to withstand the economic impacts of COVID-19.
He owns Top Shelf Catering, a provider of bartenders to local large events. He says many local entrepreneurs have helped to shape the Park City community and he can help to navigate the economic downturn.
“Well, we’re in the business of celebrating in large groups, so this COVID-19 train has completely derailed us,” Metzger said.“But we're getting scrappy and we're trying to save jobs as best we can, just you know, have our finger on the pulse and be very active in seeing what’s out there for resources which Summit County, the City and the Chamber have been working diligently and I've been very impressed with the average going forth to help small businesses. That’s my job to try to tread that water and make it to the other end. The sectors in our community, a lot of have to do with hospitality, a lot of it has to do with service, and I think a lot of us are in the same boat.”
Under a normal summer season, current Chamber Bureau President and CEO Bill Malone says business in Park City is driven primarily by corporate meetings and special events. He says many of the hospitality businesses are on a thread their survival of the economic downturn will be determined in the next couple of months.
“You know, we’re looking at our occupancy for the second quarter, which is April, May and June,” he said. “April we were down 97%, May down 86%, and in June down 74%. The good news is that, you know, we were trending in the right direction. The bad news is that you know, that's a long period of time to weather the storm. In the second quarter of 2019, the county collected a little over $800,000 in transient room taxes. This year, we're estimating that to be about $40,000.”
Malone calls it a catastrophic shift from last year representing the lost business revenues as well as the impacts on local jobs. Occupancy rates are running from 20 to 25% this season but he says the business community is hopeful for the winter season. However, he hasn’t heard definitive plans on local resorts opening.
“A lot of people’s travels, in terms of those that are comfortable going on the road, doing road trips and coming to places like Park City, are making those decisions really close,” he said. “And they're watching the news, they're watching what the situations look like in the communities from a case standpoint. And so, it's really different and very difficult to forecast down the road.”
Malone says even with the extreme revenue shortfalls the Chamber is experiencing now, they’re still financially sound because they’re using savings. He says they’re somewhat optimistic for the fourth quarter. They’re continuing to market to the western regional traveler. Malone acknowledges the increased traffic congestion and the frequent sightings of out-of-state license plates would lead to more positive business trends.