(The Center Square) - Tourism in Wyoming boomed in summer 2021, blowing past 2020's numbers and even pre-pandemic years.
The state's Economic Analysis Division's data shows the state collected approximately 85% more in tax receipts this year over 2020, with $3.2 million more in June and $5 million more in July, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Michell Howard, senior director of brand strategy for the Wyoming Office of Tourism, said the state has done well compared to other states for intrinsic reasons, and they have played to those strengths to build momentum.
"Fortunately, Wyoming's product is a natural fit for travelers in a COVID-19 world," she told The Center Square. "Our wide-open spaces and sparse population were key attributes for almost anyone considering a vacation during the summer of 2020. We leaned in to promoting these attributes and worked hard to elevate our partners across Wyoming to encourage responsible travel to our state."
The state's attractive road-tripping opportunities played a big part in last year's strength and have continued into this year, she said.
"[Wyoming] has over 50% public land available to get off the grid and reconnect with nature, offers an abundance of wildlife and a variety of landmarks and monuments such as the national parks, Devils Tower and unique state parks," she said. "We've continued to see new and returning road trippers travel to Wyoming, especially during summer's peak season."
This year's record breaking didn't end with July. August tax hauls saw an increase of 66.1 percent over the same month in 2020 and approximately 26% more than August 2019, the Star Tribune reported.
Howard pointed to the availability of vaccines and restrictions being lifted as well as Wyoming's high-quality national parks as reasons for the record numbers.
"As seen across many U.S. states, national parks saw record visitation this summer with Yellowstone National Park receiving its busiest month on record in June 2021, exceeding one million visitors," she said. "Wyoming is lucky to be home to two national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, which draw in visitors each year."
But she added the national parks aren't the only draw. She pointed to a variety of events across the state including the 125th anniversary of the largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days.
As the state prepares for colder days and summer tourism season winds down, Howard iterated that Wyoming isn't just a summer destination.
"The winter season allows travelers to explore iconic destinations in a new way and discover hidden gems," she said. "We hope to see travelers plan their adventures to the state during shoulder seasons, including the fall and winter months, to experience numerous winter sports opportunities and unique accommodations that provide adventure, tranquility, family-friendly activities and more."