Park City official sees June 1 as ‘tipping point’ in coronavirus-ravaged tourism industry
It seems almost certain April will be a difficult month for business in Park City with the mountain resorts closed for the ski season, many stores temporarily shuttered and restaurants that remain open only allowed to deliver or provide takeout on the curb as the community attempts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
And May is usually a slow month anyway as tourism drops sharply and some businesses close annually for extended periods.
But June can be a strong stretch for Park City’s tourism industry as the weather warms, the trails dry out and cultural offerings restart. June is two months away, and it seems that some are starting to prepare for what they hope is, essentially, the reopening of Park City to business early in that month.
The spread of the coronavirus wrecked the final weeks of the ski season as people canceled ski trips and Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort closed several weeks prior than planned, effectively beginning the spring shoulder season early.
It is difficult to predict what sort of timeline the tourism industry will ultimately follow since it is unknown when the spread of the disease will be halted. One member of the Park City Council in recent comments spoke about what he sees as the importance of June 1 as the date when the tourism industry reignites.
City Councilor Tim Henney during a recent online event dubbed a Virtual Coffee With Council addressed the idea of the possibility of a reopening of the tourism industry in Park City on June 1. The Virtual Coffee With Council addressed numerous issues related to the impacts of the spread of the novel coronavirus, but Henney’s comments were intriguing as many in Park City begin looking toward the rebuilding of the tourism-heavy economy.
Henney mentioned June 1 repeatedly in his comments, saying the date “for me, personally, becomes really the tipping point on this whole thing.”
“For me, we need to see some positive light at the end of the tunnel on June 1. If we’re not seeing that on June 1, we’ve got a whole different scenario,” he said as he described the possibility of “seeing progress and positive beneficial effect from the steps that have been taken.”
Henney in an interview said the June 1 date is a personal assessment, explaining the importance of the date to tourism in the summer. He also said he anticipates better data will be available by then regarding the coronavirus.
The early closings of the mountain resorts and the subsequent shutdowns of other businesses came toward the end of the ski season. Although sales across Park City dropped sharply in the final weeks of the ski season, most of the season’s revenues had already been generated, the Park City Chamber/Bureau has said. There is only limited business conducted in April and May in a typical year anyway.
June, though, is the traditional start of the summer-tourism season in Park City. People head to the community for mountain biking, hiking, cultural events and other draws. June is normally not as lucrative as July or August, but it restarts the flow of tourism monies into the community after the shoulder season.
“It’s completely different if we can compact this into an April, May event from both a health and a business standpoint, and an employment standpoint, and a being able to fund your rent and your utility bills standpoint, versus something that goes through the entire summer. That we start to lose events, we start to lose our tourism industry, we start to lose different businesses that are further up the food chain, and that’s something that I am very concerned about,” Henney said.
The Chamber/Bureau event calendar for June includes the Ragnar Relay running competition, the restarting of the annual Park Silly Sunday Market on Main Street and the Savor the Summit dining event, also on Main Street. The Latino Arts Fest is also on the calendar in June. Several concerts are planned that month at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street and the DeJoria Center in Kamas.
“Everything changes, for me, the calculus, what we’re dealing with, what we’re looking at, what we’re planning for, June 1. If we see significant progress, and I am extremely hopeful that we are going to see significant progress by June 1, then we start not having the same sort of future and event horizon that we might have if we’re in the same position we’re in today June 1,” Henney said. “So, for me, that’s really the tipping point. It’s good to be thinking about these things, but I think we’re going to have a whole different conversation on June 1. I hope and I think we’ll be congratulating the community and we will have flattened the curve and we will be normalizing some things. That’s my hope and, at this point, my expectation.”
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The Park City Police Department on Saturday, May 8, received at least three complaints from businesses in the Main Street core. In one of the cases, a customer was outside “causing a scene,” according to department logs.