CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Office of Tourism released its 2020 Economic Impact of Travel in Wyoming report today, April 27. According to the report, Wyoming’s travel economy as a whole declined by 23 percent, compared to the overall U.S travel economy reporting a 36 percent decline.
In 2019 over 1.8 million people stayed overnight in Teton County, in 2020, that number decreased to about 1.5 million, about a 20 percent decrease. The hardest-hit counties were Sublette, Goshen, and Converse Counties with a decrease in overnight visitation at 39 percent. As a whole, 6.9 million visitors stayed overnight in Wyoming in 2020, accounting for over $3.05 billion in spending.
In the state, total direct travel spending decreased by $906 million in 2020. Teton County accounts for over a third of all travel-related spending in the state of Wyoming. Teton County’s 17.7 percent loss in travel spending is slightly lower than the statewide average of 22.1 percent. Because of the high losses in neighboring Park County, the combined area around Yellowstone National Park, which includes Teton County and Park County, showed a loss of 21.6%, very close to the statewide average. Park County saw a 32% decrease in direct travel spending.
“Last year was unprecedented for the world and travel industry, but as the least populated state, Wyoming was uniquely positioned as a destination for those looking to enjoy wide-open spaces in a socially distant environment,” said Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism. “Our local communities and businesses worked hard this past year to safely welcome visitors, and we are now in a much better position because of their resiliency.”
According to the report, each Wyoming household would have to pay approximately $678 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry. In 2019 visitor spending generated $160 million in local and state tax revenues. One in every ten jobs is supported by travel and tourism in Wyoming.
The report was released ahead of Wyoming’s participation in National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) on May 2-8, honoring the “Power of Travel” as this year’s theme. Held annually by the U.S. Travel Association, NTTW advocates for travel citing the economic, business, and personal well-being benefits.
The Wyoming Office of Tourism will launch its second year of the “WY Responsibly” campaign, this summer. According to the Wyoming Office of Tourism, “the campaign aims to educate and facilitate responsible travel throughout Wyoming’s natural spaces, wildlife encounters, and community engagement.”
The report was conducted by Dean Runyan Associates. The full 2020 report can be found here.