PARK CITY, Utah — Park City’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and as winter approaches, there’s concern over what impact the coronavirus pandemic might have.
The Park City Chamber of Commerce says it’s seeing a rise in vacation cancellations. However, there’s a reason for it and it’s not just specific to Park City, but to other mountain towns around the country as well.
“We need to have a strong winter season and we are being optimistic that we can do that,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the chamber.
Wesselhoff says the number of lodging cancellations are mainly coming from Airbnbs and short term rentals.
“Destinations across the country, especially those with high short-term rentals or rent-by-owner inventory, are experiencing the same phenomenon,” Wesselhoff said.
That’s because sites like Airbnb lock renters into a 60 day cancellation notice policy within the rental agreement.
“As we approach the holiday season, visitors really need to commit to their plans,” Wesselhoff said. “And that’s a matter of if they book or cancel within that 60 day clause there’s no prepayment penalty for them.”
Other factors are also in play this year.
“Certainly the number of Covid cases in the destination that they’re looking at visiting is a part of that,” Wesselhoff said. “But I think they’re also looking at the number of cases around them, they are looking at the cancellation clause, looking at the weather, maybe consumer confidence, the economy.”
Resorts and hotels in Park City are seeing their bookings outpace their cancellations.
“Visitor behavior has really changed throughout this whole Covid situation and the booking window in the last minute bookings are more common,” Wesselhoff said. “So we won’t be surprised if the phones keep ringing right up to the holiday season.”
In order for businesses to stay afloat and the economy to thrive, Park City needs to have a strong winter season. That’s why businesses, restaurants and the resorts have put guidelines into place to keep everyone safe.