Park City tourism drops abruptly, dragging down season numbers
The Park City tourism industry is suffering an abrupt, steep decline in the final weeks of the ski season amid the concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, a drop that is so dramatic it could leave the crucial industry behind last year’s numbers after it led the 2018-2019 season through early March.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau, which tracks the numbers, said occupancy this ski season was projected to advance 4% or 5% over the previous one prior to the spread of the illness. Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said on Thursday there is a possibility of a drop in the numbers by 4% or 5%. The move of up to 10 percentage points in the matter of days illustrates how quickly the impacts of the illness struck the Park City economy.
Malone said there have been a “number of cancellations” in recent days. He said lodging properties want to redirect those reservations to new bookings for the next ski season.
Malone said there has been a high number of cancellations by ski clubs and corporate groups during the week. The cancellations have impacted at least several lodging properties, he said.
“This could definitely turn our March into double-digit decline” over March of 2019, he said.
The spread of the illness is occurring in the final weeks of the ski season, and the timing is seen as less harmful to the Park City economy than a spread earlier in the season since much of the winter business was already captured through the holidays, the Sundance Film Festival and a busy February.
One of the nightclubs on Main Street, Flanagan’s On Main, reported solid numbers for the ski season. John Kenworthy, the owner, said the nightclub is taking precautions such as staffers wearing gloves when they check identifications and increasing sanitation efforts. He said Flanagan’s on Main is following the recommendations of the Summit County Health Department. The establishment also is restricting the crowd size in the Main Street-level restaurant and the pub on the lower level to fewer than 100 each.
Kenworthy is looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday. Five bands and bagpipers are scheduled to perform.
“Our biggest day of the year,” he said about St. Patrick’s Day.
He said Flanagan’s on Main enjoyed strong numbers over the last week.
“If they come to Park City, they’re here to enjoy our resort town,” Kenworthy said about visitors.
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Park City is considering reinstating a controversial program along Main Street involving permit-only drop-and-load zones, something that debuted early last winter before it was suspended in March.