TWIN FALLS — As summer edges closer, the question comes into mind for many in Twin Falls as to what the impact will be on tourism for the city. Tourism is the fifth-largest industry that drives the economy for Twin Falls, with its summer months being the most popular.
Last year, a total of 56,605 visitors were signed in at the visitor center just next to the canyon. Over 37,000 of those visitors were from May to August. The amount does not mention those who stopped by and visited the area, including other spots like Shoshone Falls or Dierkes Lake. People from all over the country and the world come to these locations to visit the magnificent sites.
It is already apparent that Twin Falls can expect a loss in people visiting the area due to COVID-19 and the many guidelines in place. The visitors center just opened this past weekend for the first time in two months. Over 180 people attended the reopening, yet for a daily weekend in May, average numbers are around 300.
Attractions such as the canyon and Shoshone Falls are sure to see a reduced number in visitors. However, those in the service industry will also be taking a direct impact. Local shops, restaurants, and bars that rely on consumers might find a weary group of visitors not yet ready to go back to normal.
President of the Chamber of Commerce Shawn Barigar, stated, "They may not have the comfort level to sit down at a restaurant or even stop to do some shopping. So yeah, there is certainly a consumer shift as well."
While the number of visitors is decreasing, people still have been taking advantage of what Twin Falls offers. Since many people are eager to get out of their house, loads have gone to these famous attractions for a breath of fresh air.
Barigar commented that in the past two months, they have seen a tremendous amount of people utilizing the canyon trail. He is pleased to see people getting out again and practicing social distancing and following other guidelines. Barigar also said, "I think if people can adapt to those new protocols, we can all still take advantage of summer."
While out of state traveler numbers are dwindling, many visitors thus far have been people from in-state. Officials from Twin Falls see this as an excellent way for many local Idahoans who have never been to Twin to visit the area. Shawn Barigar stated, "there are great chances for Idahoans to get out and explore the rest of their state, a little bit more of a staycation kind of a plan for the summer."
Despite the gradual reopening of shops and restaurants, the full impact that tourism could have on their business for summer will not be known until it is well underway.