The wounds of the COVID-19 pandemic are still fresh in our minds, but the scars could last much longer.
As the pandemic struck, everyone was encouraged to stay home for their safety.
And nearly everyone did, for just about two months.
“Really since the outbreak started in mid-March, you have places like the Bismarck Events center, like our convention and visitors hotels, they really have been idle,” said Brian Ritter with the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.
That’s two months of people not putting money back into their community, as well as communities not getting outside visitors.
“As events get postponed, that means less travelers coming to our community and if we have less travelers coming to our community that means their spending less in our community and so we’re gonna see those occupancy tax collections go down over the next couple of months,” said Brian Ritter, head of the Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce.
Ritter says Hotel Occupancy tax collections, as well as Restaurant and Lodging tax collections, are all down nearly 20%.
In Minot, it’s more of the same, as hotel occupancy in April was down nearly 19% over last April.
And with the cancellation of the State Fair and Høstfest, the ripple effect of losing all that tax revenue is starting to be felt already.
“The City Council did already postponed two projects, they had bids in and they postponed awarding those bids for two major infrastructure projects for at least a year,” said Minot Chamber head L. John MacMartin
The lack of tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is causing many cities across the country as well as here in North Dakota to reconsider the ways that they lure people to visit their cities, some saying they’re even thinking about a plan to focus more on getting people from within the state to visit their city rather than trying to lure others from out of state.
Dickinson is a prime example of this. Hotel Occupancy in April compared to last April plunged 55%.
“We’re really looking to get, North Dakotan’s that normally don’t visit this area, to come and visit, because we’re within a day, there’s some really great visitors options and tourism things to do, and it’s really not that long of a drive from one corner of the state to the other here in North Dakota,” said Dickinson Chamber of Commerce director Christina Jorgensen.
And they need visitors, especially after the two-week-long Rough Rider Days Fair scheduled for later this month was canceled.
All three say they do feel their communities will bounce back faster than other larger cities across the country because of all the diverse offerings each has to offer for tourists.