Tour of Utah, a big summertime event in Park City, canceled amid spread of coronavirus
The organizers of the Tour of Utah bicycling race have canceled this year’s event, citing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, an early indication that the disease’s impact on Park City’s summer tourism season could be significant after it forced an early end to the ski season.
The Tour of Utah course was scheduled to stretch through parts of Park City and surrounding Summit County on three days in early August, ending on Main Street on Aug. 9. Tour organizers had also designed a route to the Woodward Park City action sports camp in the Snyderville Basin on Aug. 6 and one to Canyons Village on Aug. 8.
The event has grown into a popular date on the Park City tourism calendar as thousands of bicycling fans descend on Main Street for the finish line on the final day of the race. Many spectators spend the day along Main Street, watching the bicyclists leave for the final stage before perusing vendor and sponsor setups on a Main Street that is closed to traffic for the event. Spectators line Main Street as the bicyclists return to Old Town after a day of climbs and descents. There are also spectators at numerous other points along the Park City-area route.
The chairman of the Tour of Utah, Steve Miller, said in a prepared statement the cancellation is in “the best interests” of the host communities, the cyclists and spectators.
“For the past 15 editions, this international cycling event has traveled the scenic byways of Utah, and we will miss gathering communities together to enjoy the race this year,” Miller said.
The loss of the Tour of Utah for 2020 is a notable hit to the summer-tourism season based on the amount of spectators and publicity generated for Park City, a place widely seen as an attractive community for bicyclists. It draws one of the largest one-day crowds of the year to Main Street. The progress of the riders is shown on a video screen, the spectators mingle with sponsors and there are bicycling-centric activities as the crowd awaits the return of the peloton to the Main Street finish line.
The Tour of Utah broadly benefits the Park City economy as people associated with the event itself and spectators arrive for the weekend. The lodging industry, restaurants and shops typically enjoy a solid weekend for business.
The spread of the novel coronavirus carved into Park City’s tourism-dependent economy toward the end of the ski season. The Park City Chamber/Bureau has said the impact on the ski season was contained since the mountain resorts were forced to close with just several weeks left in the ski season. Most of the ski season’s sales had already been booked by that time.
The worries had turned to the summer even before the announcement of the cancellation of the Tour of Utah. There are concerns there could be impacts on summertime tourism regardless of the efforts to stop the spread of the disease as people weigh whether to travel. The president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, Bill Malone, recently acknowledged there is a chance the community could be in a state of economic “limbo” in the summer, while Park City Councilor Tim Henney has said he sees June 1, considered by some to be the beginning of the summertime-tourism season, as “the tipping point.”
Other major events during the summer include the Park City Kimball Arts Festival and the weekly Park Silly Sunday Market. There are also a series of music festivals and sports events during the summer.
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