Park City tourism outlook this winter is on the rise

Pedestrians use Main Street in December 2020.
Park Record File Photo

Tourism forecasts are looking good for Park City this winter as the ski season begins.

Many people feel safe enough to go on vacation.

Ski resort pre-season sales have exceeded pre-pandemic figures.

And advance reservations for accommodation are up 52% ​​from December to February, compared to an average of 40% last winter for the same period, the first full winter of the coronavirus era.

Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Park City chamber / office, said accommodation occupancy is a good indicator of overall tourism performance.

“We know that people who stay overnight generally spend more money in the community and that they eat out and shop,†Wesselhoff said.

Occupancy for the entire winter season – which is considered to run from November to April – was 48% in 2018-19, 41% in 2019-2020 and 38% in 2020-21.

The average occupancy rate for this entire winter season in the books, as of November 30, is 37%. This figure is likely to increase throughout the winter as more and more people get new accommodation bookings.

A recent survey shows that travel could increase in 2022.

“As the vacation travel season approaches, a third of American travelers are now saying COVID-19 no longer has any influence on their travel plans,†Wesselhoff said of the investigation. “Global demand is still very strong with almost 90% of US travelers indicating they plan to travel within the next six months.”

She said people are realizing that those who are vaccinated can have relatively safe vacations, especially if much of the activities they pursue are outdoors.

“We are really lucky to attract visitors who may be outside to participate in what can be seen as a fairly safe activity related to the pandemic,” Wesselhoff said.

Another positive trend is that half of the travelers surveyed said that it is unlikely or that they will definitely not travel abroad in the next 12 months, she said.

“It really opens up an opportunity for us to capture some of that market share from people who are now traveling nationally rather than internationally,†said Wesselhoff.

To help gain this market share, the House / Office is launching a marketing campaign with a slogan that features Park City as “Winter’s Favorite Town”.

Wesselhoff said the campaign is focused closer to home by targeting the reader market, which includes California, Colorado, Dallas and Phoenix. It’s also expanding to Chicago and New York “because they’re good markets for us,” she said.

The target audience is affluent, upscale visitors aged 25 and over, with a family income over $ 150,000 who are active travelers and skiers or snowboarders.

While many Americans appear keen to put the pandemic behind them, the House / Office remains hypervigilant about the coronavirus, Wesselhoff said. The organization is monitoring the number of COVID cases in its target markets.

“We have developed a threshold model where if the cases cross our threshold, we turn off our marketing in those communities,†she said.

It is also unclear how the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has raised concern among public health officials and frightened financial markets, will affect tourism in the United States and around the world. The United States, for example, now requires travelers from overseas to provide proof of a negative COVID test.

While much is still unknown about the transmissibility and severity of the variant, tourists may become more cautious if omicron becomes mainstream and poses increased health risks.

House / Office marketing materials include information on COVID protocols and how to visit safely, Wesselhoff said.

“We try to communicate the importance of being a responsible visitor to not only protect ourselves, but also to protect ourselves and the community,†said Wesselhoff.

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