Even during the pandemic tourism is still going strong in Idaho
"We spent the night in Twin Falls because we love this area; it's beautiful here."
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Twin Falls Visitor Center was closed from the middle of March to the middle of May due to the coronavirus shutdown, and now that they are back open, they are seeing many visitors once again, but the people who are coming in are different than in the past.
“In 2019, we had a fair amount of international travelers, still a lot of tour buses coming through on their way to Yellowstone or Glacier National Park,” said Shawn Barigar, the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “None of that’s happening this year.”
Barigar said they are only down only about 20% in the number of visitors since a year ago. He says they are seeing a lot of visitors from all across Idaho and many visitors from California and Utah, and they’ve even seen visitors from all 50 states. So you’re not alone if you’ve seen an increase of out of state license plates.
“We are intercepting people when they come in,” Barigar said. “So in the past they voluntarily signed the guest book. Now we’re stopping them asking them where they’re from just a matter of course, to be able to keep track of where we’re seeing visitors from.”
And it’s easy to see why so many people love visiting southern Idaho.
“We wanted to stop here. We spent the night in Twin Falls because we love this area, it’s beautiful here,” said Doug Valverde, a visitor from California. “Just get out and hike and meet people that are friendly.”
And while Idaho remains in stage four of Gov. Brad Little’s reopening, it is further along than others. Matthew Conde, AAA Idaho’s Public and Government Affairs Director, attributes Idaho’s reopening to the uptick in visitors.
“That’s where you’re seeing this influx of tourism coming from, states like Florida, Utah and Idaho that are further along in the stages of reopening for one reason or another are becoming magnets for anybody who can’t do things in their own state,” Conde said.
The secret seems to be out when it comes to the beauty of the Gem State and all the opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and nature.
“Oh yeah, it’s a beautiful country to visit, you know. And it’s not that far from California,” Valverde said.
And like it or not many visitors are thinking of making their short trips permanent moves.
“A lot of them are now asking about re-location information,” Barigar said. “So, they’re out of their house now, they’ve come to Idaho, they think, ‘hmm, this isn’t a bad place.‘”.
Whether they come for few days or the rest of their lives, Idaho is no longer a hidden gem.
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