Park City-area lodging projections point to a solid finish to ski season
There is ‘pent-up demand for travel’ this winter, the Chamber/Bureau says
Park City-area lodging projections for the final month-plus of the ski season point to a solid finish to a winter that has appeared to outperform economically after early worries the continued spread of the novel coronavirus could cut deep into the tourism industry.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau most recent projections, compiled on Feb. 15, show the numbers in the current ski season continuing to trail those from last winter, in many cases by double-digit percentage points. But the projections for the rest of the current season have risen dramatically since a Jan. 15 reading.
Some upcoming days are projected to reach peak occupancy during the current ski season. The number is projected to hit 80% on Friday, a drop of 12 percentage points from the 92% projected at the same time last year for that date. Saturday is also projected to be strong, with the number projected at 79%, down from the 90% the year before. The projections for early March run from 49% on March 2 to 67% on March 6, also down from 2020.
The projections, though, are seen as encouraging even as they represent a year-over-year drop as the community enters the final weeks of a ski season that was marked by uncertainty. It was unclear at the outset of the winter whether travelers would arrive in significant numbers with coronavirus cases increasing and economic uncertainty continuing. There have been surprises to the upside throughout most of the winter other than the period of the Sundance Film Festival, which was held this year in a virtual format.
Jennifer Wesselhoff, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said the numbers are “extremely good news.” She said February could be the best month of the ski season and occupancy for the full month is expected to hit close to 60%. The month is “looking really strong,” she said, describing there is a “pent-up demand for travel.” March forecasts are also solid, she noted.
Wesselhoff noted the declining numbers of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and the recent snows in the Park City area as two of the reasons for the increasing lodging numbers. She said the lodging industry is receiving more reservations just before check-in dates than previous years. That trend could result in actual lodging numbers that top the current projections for the coming weeks, she said.
“The occupancy is only going to grow from here,” she said.
The numbers are compiled from 16 properties that represent approximately 55% of the total lodging inventory in the Park City area.
The projections for the final days of March in 2021 are shown to be beating the previous year’s figures. By the time the numbers were compiled in 2020, though, the impact of the coronavirus was influencing the lodging industry before the tourism industry essentially was shuttered in the middle of March of 2020.
Lodging numbers are an especially important metric for the broader Park City economy since people staying in those properties spend money in other sectors like restaurant, transportation and retail.
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The Park City Police Department last week received reports of drivers struggling in a late-season snowstorm. The complaints were logged in various locations inside the city. The accidents did not appear to be serious.