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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of November 7 - 13, 2001


Tourism business slips after terrorist attacks

Express Staff Writer

As predicted, the Wood River Valley’s resort-based economy did not emerge unscathed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Ketchum’s and Sun Valley’s local option tax collections both slipped more than 10 percent in September, compared with 2000 figures.

Sun Valley collected $110,908 in September, representing a 14 percent decrease. Ketchum collected $193,686, representing a sizable 17 percent decrease.

The local option tax (LOT) is a state-enabled sales tax for Idaho’s resort communities. It is designed to help offset the increased infrastructure demands resort cities incur. Ketchum levies 2 percent on short-term rooms and liquor and 1 percent on general sales. Sun Valley levies 3 percent on rooms, liquor and general sales.

Because 80 percent of local option taxes in Ketchum and Sun Valley are contributed by visitors, according to a 2001 Blaine County economic analysis, the collections serve, in part, as an economic barometer for tourism.

Tourism, according to the same report, contributed to 37 percent of all jobs and 29 percent of all earnings in Blaine County between 1991 and 2000. Visitor spending brought $120 million in earnings to Blaine County in 2000.

Of particular note for September’s local option tax collections were lodging receipts in both cities. While Sun Valley’s total lodging receipts were down 16 percent, Ketchum’s dropped 22 percent, from $21,144 in 2000 to $16,633 this year.

General retail receipts were down 12 percent in Sun Valley and down 21 percent in Ketchum. Liquor receipts were down 14 percent in Sun Valley and down 18 percent in Ketchum.

"Presumably because of the Sept. 11 event, people didn’t stay, they didn’t travel," said Ketchum City Administrator Jim Jaquet. "Now, hopefully, that will change."

Shannon Bryant, Clarion Inn general manager, said her business was down but didn’t bottom out.

"Following Sept. 11, we did have quite a few cancellations, but it seems we were able to make up with a lot of people from the local area," she said.

Clarion Inn, like other local businesses, is focusing marketing dollars on the regional market more than in the past. The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce also announced last week a regionally focused marketing plan that would add value to visitors’ vacations through coupons.

Sun Valley Co. responded to the slipping economy by adding another season pass option, called the 20-20 pass, to its quiver of offerings.

The 20-20 offers purchasers 40 days of skiing for $595, if the pass is purchased before Nov. 16.

The hope, said Sun Valley General Manager Wally Huffman, is to sell the 20-20 pass to regional skiers who have skied only a handful of days each year for several years preceding this one.

Meanwhile, Bryant said things are looking up as ski season approaches.

"We’re on record to have a very good November, and December’s still shaping up," she said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.