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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of September 11 - 17, 2002

reflections on September 11th

Another sign that summer is over occurred with the Labor Day closing of the River Run Express and the Lookout Express lifts on Bald Mountain. The lifts on the River Run side of Baldy operated seven days each week since June 29 and offered access to fine hiking and mountain biking trails. According to the Sports Information Desk at Sun Valley Co., a breakdown of the 16,814 total riders in the summer of 2002 is: 14,254 foot traffic and 2,560 bike riders. These numbers are down from a total of 19,108 in 2001 and a total of 20,047 in 2000. Speculation of the declining numbers suggest a decreased use by the local population as tourist use remained steady. Express photo by Willy Cook

Weathering the storm

Resort toughs out aftermath of Sept. 11


By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer

Accustomed to the unpredictable cycle of good years and bad years of snow, the Sun Valley Resort is toughing it through the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the East Coast with a mixture of optimism and reality that has come in handy in past years.

The resortís business is down about 10 percent, said marketing director Jack Sibbach.

He said, for example, that immediately after Sept. 11 last year, eight large meetings groups with a total of about 400 people canceled reservations. They subsequently re-booked for their visits, Sibbach said.

Like most destination resorts, Sibbach said, Sun Valley is suffering from "the emotional effects of Sept. 11 Ė the fear of travel and so forth."

He said "the phones didnít ring for a long time after Sept. 11, and didnít start ringing again (with reservations) until November.

On top of Sept. 11 has been the plunge of stock market values. Corporate business for the resort, Sibbach said, usually takes a year to turn around.

However, the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerceís executive director, Carol Waller, believes the area is faring better than other resorts.

She says the local sales tax in Ketchum has dropped by only 5 percent this year, but 13 percent in Sun Valley because Elkhorn Resort has largely closed as well as the closing of several other businesses.

"After the September 11 attacks we set a goal that we would like to see the LOT tax slip less than 10 percent this year," Waller said in a press release. "The good news is that our area is doing better than many other places in the country. Our new promotions, which we implemented directly after Sept. 11, certainly helped let people know that we are open for business and spurred a huge number of inquiries about the area. Hopefully we will see some of those faces return this winter."

Another indicator that the Ketchum/Sun Valley area is in better shape is the low level of unemployment Ė currently at 3.8 percent, which is approximately the same as the pre-Sept. 11 unemployment of 3.3 percent, said Greg Rogers, a regional labor economist.

In essence Sun Valley and Ketchumís job market, though heavily reliant on tourism, has not felt the effects of Sept. 11 as much as the rest of the country, Rogers said. According to the Travel Industry Association of America more than 359,000 tourism industry jobs were lost in a 12-month period from June 2001 to June 2002. Most of those jobs (273,000) disappeared in the first 100 days after Sept. 11.

Air travel into the area, according to a survey by the Travel Industry Association of America, has declined only 2 percent this year.

"According to TIA that is cause for celebration, which determined from their most recent survey on American traveling habits, that Americans are staying closer to home traveling more often by car and spending less time away," Waller said. "In addition Americans are traveling more with their families and making the natural environment or American heritage and culture the reason for their trip.

Leisure travel, particularly auto travel, has rebounded significantly through the rediscovery of that great American tradition, the road trip, said Jim Manion, Idaho Division president of AAA Oregon/Idaho. "Without question, travel by car, SUV, camper and motorcycle is up."

He also agreed that Americans have opted for destinations closer to home.

 

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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.