Looking ahead to the summer tourist season, Park City Chamber/Bureau Director Bill Malone says it’s not a pretty picture.
Meanwhile, the picture is unclear for the winter, as resorts try to figure out how to put on a ski season with Covid precautions.
Malone said in terms of the reservations they’re seeing this summer, occupancy is down to about 10 percent.
The visitors they are seeing, he said, are making their vacation plans suddenly.
“They’re calling a few days in advance, and some are even showing up without reservations, and just going to the hotels and renting rooms at that—just walking in the door.
He said they’ve lost the meeting business for this season, except maybe for small groups of less than 50 people. They are making sales to groups for next year or further out.
For restaurants, he said, a big question for their survival is how many seats they can furnish for customers.
“We’ve seen restaurants already that are making plans and changing their situations based on the fact that their rents were basically based on how many seats they were able to do in a restaurant. And then, where do you go from there when you reduce your capacity by 50 percent. You’re in a challenging situation. The creativity is pretty interesting as to how restaurants are doing that, and how they’re trying to make people feel secure and safe. And those with outdoor dining are obviously in an enviable situation.”
With events such as the Fourth of July Parade and Kimball Arts Festival canceled, we asked Malone how they can consider hosting a return of the Triple Crown Girls Softball Tournament.
He said that each event is different, with different impacts.
“You have to look at each one of those individually and say, can this be done? Is this an outdoor event? Are we talking about 22 people on a field? Can parents be dispersed? An event like a Triple Crown event is not an event that attracts a large number of spectators. Where large numbers of people involved in it, this is pretty much parents and kids outside.”
He said it’s important to remember this kind of activity is badly needed by local business.
“I have a lot of faith and confidence in the staff at the city and the county, in terms of how they handled mitigation in the past. We do have businesses that are struggling, and these are customers that are desperately needed by some of these businesses. And not every event raises the tide for every business. But there’s a variety of different types of businesses in town that definitely need some of that traffic to buy food and stay in their hotels, etc.”
Meanwhile, the ski season is coming. Malone said in these uncertain times, it’s good that Park City has some major industry players operating in town.
“We’re pretty fortunate. As much consternation as the community has had last few years in terms of large corporations buying the ski resorts, I think in many ways, we’re kinda in a fortunate situation right now by having these companies that are pretty well capitalized in ownership positions with the two ski resorts in our community.”
He said they’re looking to see how ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere are now operating in the age of COVID. He said they’re looking at everything.
“From capping numbers to how do you do it, what happens on mountain, what happens inside restrooms, food service those types of things. So everybody’s trying to analyze it. And I think obviously, in our world we think that a lot of this is gonna come down to people’s comfort levels and where are we by that time with comfort levels as it relates to air travel. Because so much of our economy is based on people flying here in the winter.”
Park City Chamber/Bureau Director Bill Malone.