California coronavirus stay-at-home orders may drive Golden State skiers to Park City slopes
Millions of Californians are under stay-at-home orders as part of that state’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The orders will be in effect for a minimum of three weeks, putting them into the holidays, and they could influence some to head to the mountains of Utah for Christmas and New Year’s. The stay-at-home orders cover large swaths of California and include Los Angeles and wider Southern California. Park City has long drawn large numbers of skiers and snowboarders from California, especially from Southern California, with a short flight or a day’s drive.
The holiday stretch is typically one of the busiest on the calendar in Park City, traditionally drawing large crowds starting several days before Christmas and running through New Year’s. There are numerous unknowns about the impact the sickness will have on the ski season, but the Park City Chamber/Bureau on Monday indicated the stay-at-home orders in California could provide a boost to Park City’s mountain resorts in coming weeks.
California is a crucial state for the Park City ski industry. In the 2019-2020 ski season, Californians accounted for 17% of the skiers and snowboarders in Park City who stayed in hotels, according to the Chamber/Bureau. The 17% represented, by a wide margin, the largest bloc of skiers and snowboarders, besting the 8.1% from New York and the 8% from Texas.
The Chamber/Bureau in a response to a Park Record inquiry explained the stay-at-home order may lead to more Californians considering a trip to Park City.
“While California is our top market, the recent Governor’s orders in California may actually help, rather than hurt, Park City’s prospects,” the Chamber/Bureau said, adding that the stay-at-home orders could “have a disproportionate impact on California ski resort operations. Park City benefits when California is having a bad snow year and these orders may create a similar effect.”
The Chamber/Bureau also said people from California look elsewhere for travel at times of restrictions in that state.
“Some Californians may heed the Governor’s orders and stay home, but what we learned this summer is the more ‘shut down’ California is, the more Californians tend to investigate out-of-state options — and Utah is the closest ski destination beyond Mammoth and Tahoe,” the response said, referring to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California and the Lake Tahoe region of California and Nevada.
The Chamber/Bureau statement continued: “Additionally, while the Governor’s actions there are motivated by Covid concerns, California is actually doing better than Utah in terms of Covid numbers. Most importantly, the visitors we have had in Park City from California (and other states) have been exceptionally cooperative in terms of our local health mandates. Summit County’s Health Department has been reporting minimal transmission from travel as opposed to local, in-home cases.”
There are widespread worries in the Park City area regarding the winter, including the possibility of increasing coronavirus cases locally as a result of the crowds and whether restrictions elsewhere, like the stay-at-home orders in California, will lead to less travel.
There would be continuing impacts if the stay-at-home orders in California are extended. The Sundance Film Festival is scheduled to open Jan. 28. The event will be greatly scaled back from a typical year and the crowds are expected to be minimal. Sundance, though, usually draws large numbers of people from California.
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Thanks to COVID-19 cutting into visitation numbers, Park City’s seasonal workforce is sufficient. In any other winter, “the hiring situation would be dire.”