EASTERN IDAHO (KIFI) - From the views of the Tetons to the Treasure Valley, the Gem State has a lot to offer. After another fiscal year has closed, Idaho tourism saw nearly a 40% increase in the amount of tourist traffic though the state.
"An absolute record shattering year in terms of lodging, tax collection. And that lodging tax, the 2% lodging tax that's attached to every stay at a hotel, motel, campground, short term rental of any type of property in Idaho. So it's a really good indicator of, you know, our our people staying in Idaho, what our occupancy rates look like. And then price per room, our average daily rate, our prices going up are going down. So when we see a year like being up nearly 40%, you know, it's a factor of more people visiting statewide. And then also, a little higher priced room rates. Tourism is the state's third largest industry," said Matt Borud, the Idaho Department of Commerce Marketing and Innovation administrator.
Borud added although overall we had a record breaking year in 2022, there are some things missing.
"I'm hopeful for the return of more international visitors. I know that's a that's a big thing in eastern Idaho. And you know that that just hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels yet."
Lower international visitors weren't the only things missing either.
"Eastern Idaho had an incredibly strong year. Again, gas prices are a killer for us. That that hurt more the drive market. And, we can certainly see correlations there. What we heard from some research and some partners was travelers were adjusting their travel plans based on gas prices."
He added the research showed that bigger trips were kept but the quick weekend trips weren't as common.
Borud says despite lower international travel and lower driver numbers, the region still did phenomenal in terms of tourism.
He says the early closure of Yellowstone due to flooding took its toll in the region as well.
"The early season, Yellowstone closure really hurt in eastern Idaho. When that when those floods initially hit, we weren't really sure of the severity. Some of the initial reports were very, very severe. A credit to Yellowstone. I mean, they ended up reopening pretty quickly. But unfortunately, the just that uncertainty for a while really kind of forced people to cancel trips."
Despite the short comings during the year for tourism the state still saw growth over 2021 coming in a 39.4%. He says there's more upcoming seasons that will allow the region to continue that growth.
"You mentioned hunting early on. Those are that's big business. So, you know, looking forward, you know, we're hopeful for that. You know, like we said before, you know, it used to be that our that our our our marketing programs are really designed around summer months and winter months. And then kind of that spring and fall, we're a little bit more shoulder seasons, but fall really isn't a shoulder season anymore."
He added that ski season helps that change.
"I mean, it is we are busy really all the way through kind of that memorial Day through the end of ski season. And then, you know, you get a little bit of spring slack right now. But yeah, I expect a strong remainder of 2022. And I think we're optimistic for for 2023."
So far the tourist numbers early on in the next fiscal year have led to some optimism in growth but more uncertainty.
"I would love to say that we're going to come back and grow by another 39.4%, but I don't think that is going to happen. I would take, you know, flat for a few points up on some of these record numbers. And that's right where we're at."
Borud says there's even plenty for those who have lived in Idaho for a while to those who just moved in to do. He says perhaps the best thing to do is, "just get outside hopefully, you know, with family, friends and get out and visit and explore your own backyard because it's you said it's not really a hidden gem anymore. It's we're definitely on the radar. But I don't think there are there are not very many better places in the world to explore and visit than that Idaho."
He says if you need ideas to help get started, you can go here.