NAMPA, Idaho — The Idaho Travel Council forecasts a significant drop in visits and revenue in the coming year.
Before the pandemic, Idaho’s $3.7 billion tourism industry employed over 45,000 employees.
A 4.7% drop for this fiscal year’s income is expected—the average travel sector revenue for April and May is already down 81%.
Fiscal year 20 grants have been lowered, and fiscal year 21 grants are expected to be even lower.
The retail industry here in the Gem State is rich and diverse and relies on are tourism dollars to thrive during peak months. Governor Little’s four-stage re-opening plan is impacting some Idaho retailers. Pam Eaton, the President, and CEO of Idaho Retailers Association says she been talking to legislators “non-stop” with the hopes of finding a viable solution for retailers. Eaton sharing, “all of them do think that getting people back in our industry; the hospitality [tourism] industry... is gonna be what truly helps Idaho recover.”
Mike Fitzpatrick, the guest services manager at Sun Valley Company in agreeance, adds, “I’d love to see Sun Valley lodge open; it’s not open yet.” Sun Valley is taking a “very cautious approach to re-opening.” But scheduled to open on May 30th. Fitzpatrick says in Wednesday’s meeting, “the limelight hotel opened last week as did hotel Ketchum and Knobb hill, so people are coming back.”
But as the weather gets nicer, restrictions lifted and travel permitted, failure to continue practicing the CDC’s recommended guidelines may still put the economy at risk. One member in Wednesday’s meeting, Matt Borud, shared his experience while out in public where the people were said to be following CDC guidelines, “I’m not sure what kind of social distancing you saw or what types of cloth face-covering any of you saw, but we were out a little bit, and we didn’t see any of it.”