TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Now that COVID-19 restrictions have loosened, there are more opportunities to get outside, attend events, and participate in more recreational activities.
All these factors are having a positive impact on the tourism industry in Twin Falls, which is the city's fifth-largest industry.
The Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has reported record numbers of visitors to the Visitor Center and the area over the past few weeks.
“Comparing back to 2019, which would’ve been a more normal spring season, we’re actually double the number of visitors," said Shawn Barigar, Chamber President.
From March to May 2019, there were a total of 11,286 visitors who signed in at the Visitor's Center. From March to May 2020, there were only 3,598 people who visited. Some of the drop off can be blamed on the center's closure during the pandemic.
This year, there were a recorded number of 24,800 visitors in the same time frame with 12,861 people visiting just in this past month.
Following a successful Memorial Day weekend, the chamber says the growth is likely from people visiting from surrounding areas. Five hundred to 700 people visited each day, compared to 300 a day in May 2019.
“Often, we were the place that you stopped off to on your way to someplace else, like Yellowstone or Glacier," said Barigar. "I think we’re seeing a lot more people who are making South Central Idaho a destination in and of itself, certainly, for our robust outdoor activities, mountain biking, hiking, enjoying the river.”
The chamber also attributes the increasing number of visitors to people who have been vaccinated. There are also more opportunities for people to take advantage of like the recent Shoshone Falls After Dark event.
“We started to see some of the impact, positive impact, from the new Denver flight, and people coming to the area," said Barigar. "We’ve seen business travel pick back up so that’s helping our hotels and restaurants with increasing their occupancies and then events are something we'll be looking forward to for the rest of the summer.”
Although a lot of the visitors are from within Idaho and surrounding states, Barigar anticipates more people visiting as more travel options become available.
“As we see different kinds of travel sort of recover, like air travel, group tour business, international travel, that was some of the bread and butter of our visitors as well that we haven’t had in 2020 and haven’t started to see recover yet in 2021.”