Park City will attract fewer overnight guests this summer but may generate the same revenue
Businesses will likely capture more money from fewer visitors in the same period due to inflation
The summer is shaping up to be one that tourist-weary Parkites will be satisfied with as fewer overnight visitors are expected compared to last year, but inflation may mean they’ll spend the same amount.
A 60-day occupancy projection from the Park City Chamber/Bureau indicates there are fewer hotel reservations on the books this summer. With 55 days left in the summer, 35 days have lower projections and 20 days have higher ones than in 2021.
Dan Howard, the vice president of communications at the Chamber/Bureau, said the decline isn’t surprising given that more places, in particular, international destinations, are open compared to this time last year – creating more competition for the Park City area.
But even though there are fewer overnight guests – something that Howard said has been a request of many residents – inflation and other costs associated with travel, like airline tickets and hotel rooms, are part of a national trend that may benefit the community, he said.
“There are many reasons why we were at a higher point last summer than we will be this summer, and we’re not necessarily unhappy about it. Particularly, we’re able to see that town can, basically, amass the same revenue – that’s kind of a winning strategy,” Howard said.
As people pay more for goods and services, the area tax base increases, which allows businesses to capture more revenue in the same period from fewer visitors. This keeps shops and restaurants open while satisfying residents who are frustrated with increased foot and vehicle traffic, helping equalize things. Howard anticipates this summer’s tourism economy will still be comparable to last year based on the current trends.
Although lodging projections are down this summer, the average daily room rates in Park City have climbed significantly year over year. According to a May report from the Chamber/Bureau, the average cost of a hotel room was $250 that month and was expected to increase to $302 in June and $330 in July. The average rate in 2019 was $177 in May, $214 in June and $222 in July.
“We’re paying more for everything that we’re doing. In the case of Park City, if people are paying more when they come, that is going to generate a tax base from visitors that the city and the county will be very happy to see,” he said.
Summer events, like the Park City Kimball Arts Festival and the concert series at Deer Valley Resort, drive some business to the area on certain weekends, but Howard said most visitors coming to Park City in the summer book at the last minute because there isn’t the same sense of urgency as the winter season. The Chamber/Bureau has already started seeing reservations for end-of-year lodging and ski lessons coming in.
A lack of summer tourists years ago influenced many businesses that rely on visitors to temporarily close at certain points. Now, the summer season is a crucial part of maintaining a certain economic level throughout the year. It helps keep businesses open and people employed as the community transitions into the fall shoulder season, Howard said.
While summer is the time for leisurely family travel, the Chamber/Bureau also works on attracting groups for the fall. Howard said the organization focuses on bringing overnight guests to town because they spend more than those visiting during the day and have less of an environmental impact.
“It’s looking good in terms of what our goal would be to have recruited the right visitor for overnight that is going to produce that revenue goal. We’re always trying to figure out what that number is that makes the business community satisfied and the residents say, ‘We can deal with that,’” Howard said. “If we can find that number and both sides of our community are satisfied, we’ll feel that we were successful, and it will give us a model for future years. Right now, this summer, it’s looking like the potential for that number. I’m really feeling optimistic that we’ll have a good balance that could satisfy all dimensions of our community.”
Park City Council members briefly spoke about the opportunity for a second Winter Olympics in Utah on Thursday, a day after the International Olympic Committee invited Salt Lake City alone into the next phase of discussions for the 2034 Games.
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