Park City summer tourism seen in ‘limbo’ caused by coronavirus
Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, on Friday morning acknowledged there is the possibility the community will be in a state of economic “limbo” in the summer, a scenario that, should it occur, could have a demoralizing effect after the spread of the novel coronavirus forced an early end to the ski season.
Malone has been a key figure in the discussions in recent weeks about the impact of the spread of the disease on the Park City-area economy. Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort ended their ski seasons early, and numerous other businesses have been temporarily shuttered or are open with limited operations.
Malone spoke during a digital business roundtable that was focused on the difficulties and uncertainty created by the disease. The event was part of City Hall’s broad public-relations efforts designed to provide regular updates about the response to the coronavirus.
Malone did not provide details about the idea that there could be economic “limbo” stretching into the summer, and other speakers did not extensively discuss the summer tourism season. He later told The Park Record the comment regarding limbo was not based on data.
Some of the roundtable comments dwelled on the idea that Park City will enter what was described as a stabilization phase after the urgent phase that is currently ongoing. It was not clear from the comments on Friday how the stabilization phase would unfold, with key questions remaining like what sorts of activities will be allowed by then after the restrictions in place now are lifted. Many of the answers depend on the decisions that will be made by health officials, the roundtable heard.
The early end of the ski season was a major financial hit, but it occurred with just several weeks of skiing remaining. The timing so late in the season has contained some of the economic damage, but the impact on the workforce has appeared to be pronounced.
There is a hope that the tourism industry will re-emerge for the summer in Park City, when arts, cultural and athletic events draw crowds alongside people from the Wasatch Front who enjoy spending a day at elevation. Events include the weekly Park Silly Sunday Market starting early in the summer and the Tour of Utah bicycling event and the Park City Kimball Arts Festival later in the summer.
But it has seemed increasingly likely recently that the summer-tourism season will be impacted at some level regardless of whether the spread of the disease is stopped. Travelers could have lingering concerns about the sickness or there could be financial worries based on the convulsions in the stock markets and the rising unemployment rate. A task force created to draft plans for economic resiliency in the Park City area is in the early stages of work. A member of the Park City Council, Tim Henney, recently pointed to June 1 as what he described as a “tipping point” for the community.
More information about issues related to the impacts of the disease on business is available on the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development website, https://business.utah.gov.
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