For three consecutive months this summer, more visitors than ever before flocked to Yellowstone National Park, and park concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts believes four travel factors were responsible for the high visitation.
“We served more guests than ever in our nine lodging facilities, restaurants, and retail outlets and on our tours,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone. “We believe this past summer season was the ‘perfect storm’ of travel factors.”
The National Park Service reported visitor numbers broke records during the months of June, July and August, with more than 2.5 million visitors passing through the park’s five entrances during those months. Visitation during that three-month period was up 9.1 percent over the previous year. Year-to-date visitation through the month of August is up eight percent.
Hoeninghausen cited the following reasons for the increase in visitation:
- “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” This six-episode public television series focused the country’s attention on national parks last fall. The popularity of the series likely prompted viewers to consider and in some cases book a national park vacation this summer. “It would be impossible to attribute actual bookings to this wonderful series, but it certainly makes sense that the series inspired at least some travelers to choose Yellowstone over other possible vacation destinations,” said Hoeninghausen. “Our employees reported many positive comments about the series from guests.”
- Positive state and destination tourism marketing campaigns. Yellowstone National Park crosses the borders of the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and all three states implemented strong tourism promotional campaigns focusing on national parks and vast natural resources that Hoeninghausen believes prompted increases in visitation. In addition, destination marketing groups such as the Park County Travel Council in Cody, Wyoming also developed strong campaigns.
- Softer economy drives vacationers to high-value, affordable destinations such as parks. While some luxury and overseas travel destinations took a hit among American travelers this year, drive-to destinations such as national parks did well. “Travelers are focused above all on value, and national parks deliver that with gusto,” said Hoeninghausen. Vacationers are guaranteed that they will never be price-gouged in national parks since the price of in-park rooms, meals and other purchases are comparable to similar options outside parks. With nine lodges in the park and room options for every budget Hoeninghausen said that travelers could find affordable accommodations and activities without over-spending.
- Gas prices reasonable. “Travelers drove to Yellowstone in droves,” said Hoeninghausen. Higher gas prices typically do not deter park visitors but during previous summers may have led some travelers to spend less on their trips.
“What we learned from this summer is that interest in national parks is stronger than ever, and we expect this high level of interest and enthusiasm to last for the foreseeable future,” he said.
To make reservations and for more information about accommodations, restaurants and activities in Yellowstone visit www.YellowstoneNationalParkLodges or call toll-free (1) 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375) or (1) 307-344-7311.