CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Legislature could consider providing up to $2 million to help the state’s tourism sector cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Travel, Recreation and Wildlife voted to draft legislation to provide relief for communities and businesses that rely on tourism, The Casper Star-Tribune reported Sunday.
Lawmakers speculated a vote on the bill may take place in a second special session of the Legislature, although no date was announced.
The funds would be appropriated from $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds available to the state.
The distribution would be similar to hundreds of millions of dollars in business relief funds managed by the Wyoming Business Council earlier this year.
The money would primarily be directed toward relief for business losses incurred as the result of event cancellations.
Republican state Sen. Ogden Driskill said compensated losses would be tied to events with regional and local significance. Examples include Buffalo’s Longmire Days, Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, and Hulett’s annual Turkey Shoot.
Businesses to be considered in the draft legislation include organizers of qualifying events, hotels, bed and breakfast operators, dude ranches, and other hospitality businesses.
Businesses that already received funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program would not be eligible.
Tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry after mining and mineral extraction.
The tourism sector has experienced job declines of about 28% compared to last year despite increasing visitation. The phenomenon is a sign that visitors are camping instead of staying in hotels, Wyoming Director of Tourism Diane Shober said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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