Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day caps busy tourist season


By DICK DORWORTH
Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Resort reported "almost sold-out" lodging over the Labor Day weekend.

"The ice show was packed and occupancy in both the Sun Valley Lodge and Inn was in the mid-90 percent," said Jack Sibbach, the resort's director of marketing.

Sibbach said he did not yet have figures on food and beverage sales, but said Sun Valley's restaurants were packed during the weekend.

There is no meaningful way to compare 2008 Labor Day tourism in the Wood River Valley with 2007 because last year's Castle Rock Fire necessitated the cancellation of Wagon Days, and all businesses suffered.

AAA had predicted that the number of people traveling 50 miles or more would drop by 0.9 percent this Labor Day weekend compared to last year.

"More travelers concerned about the economy, gasoline prices and rising airfares are opting to travel by train, bus, motorcycle and cruise ship to their holiday weekend destinations," the organization stated in a news release.

However, online travel agency Expedia reported that a new survey "debunks" negative rumors about America's vacation habits.

"Frankly, the notion that Americans are staying home this summer is just plain wrong," stated the company's Travel Trendwatch. "According to our data, people have again taken to the roads and skies this season and they're taking advantage of budget-saving opportunities along the way."

Labor Day tourism in the Wood River Valley appeared to be good.

By Tuesday, only 11 local businesses had responded to a summer business survey conducted by the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau. According to this very limited response, in June, five businesses reported that business was up over 2007, while four reported it was down and two reported it was the same.

In July, five businesses reported business was up, three reported it down and three reported it the same.

In August, nine businesses reported that business was up, none reported it down and two reported it the same.

Carol Waller, the chamber's executive director, said this summer's response was the smallest ever received to the survey and that no conclusions should be drawn from such a small number.




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