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Southern Idaho sees record year for tourism

Many are hoping the trend continues into the Winter
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 8:00 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, IDAHO (KMVT/KSVT) — Southern Idaho saw a recorded year for tourism this Summer, and some are hoping the wave continues into the Winter.

With the changing colors of the leaves, the Fall season is in full swing, but summer was a memorable one for Southern Idaho. In fact a record-breaking one for tourism.

“For the first time ever we were the fifth most popular destination in all of Idaho. We beat out Sun Valley. We beat out Boise,” said Southern Idaho Tourism Executive Director Melissa Barry. “We just did really, really well in getting people to realize the magic of Twin Falls and our surrounding area.”

She attributes the increased interest in the area to neighboring states having stricter COVID policies in place, and not being as wide open as Idaho.

“Compared to an average year, so I looked at 2019 numbers, we were 45 percent up in terms of overnight stays,” said Barry. “That is a huge increase if you are thinking about 50 percent more people in the area.”

Magic Mountain Ski Report owner Suzette Miller said she thinks right now because of COVID people are wanting to be outdoors, and she is still seeing increased traffic in her area and it is not even Winter yet.

“There are more campers, there are more people doing outdoor things. There are more bikers and hikers,” Miller said.

Barry said Southern Idaho doesn’t see as much tourism in the Winter as they do in the Summer. She said hotel occupancy usually goes from 80 to 90 percent down to 60 percent in the Wintertime. Even though there may be fewer travelers coming through Southern Idaho in the Winter months, MIller said there still seems to be more compared to previous years. Magic Mountain Ski Resort had record years this past season. They saw more than 15,000 skiers and snowboarders.

“If we get the snow it will be another great year,” Miller said. " I think people are wanting to get outdoors...and they are tired of being couped up.”

However, Idaho had a dry Summer this year, and Miller and others are concerned the trend might continue into the Winter, and disrupt the wave of tourists coming into the area, as well as, locals looking to get outdoors.

“We had a season where we didn’t open to January 21. You always to be open for the holidays because that’s when you get the most people and make the most money,” Miller said.

She says right now she and her husband are busy running the Haunted Swamp in Twin Falls for Halloween, and they don’t want to pray for snow just yet.

“I feel we jinx ourselves just a little bit because we have the Haunted Swamp, and we just want to get through the Haunted Swamp,” said Miller. “So I tell the kids as soon as the Haunted Swamp is over you can start the snow dance.”

The rest is up to Mother Nature she said.

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