Travel economic impact for 2023 up from previous years

Barbara Anne Greene

In 2014 direct travel income spent was $28.4 million in Big Horn County. In 2023 the direct travel income spent was 40.1 million. In 2022 the travel income was 38 million. This information came from the recently released Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) 2023 travel impact report. Piper Singer Cunningham, Wyoming Office of Tourism spokesperson said “Tourism isn’t just about visiting places; it’s about investing in communities. For Big Horn County, visitor investment supports local businesses, fosters connections, memories and appreciation for our stunning landscapes and vibrant culture. Let’s celebrate these economic impact results and continue to invest in Big Horn County.”
Linda Morrison, Lovell Area Chamber director believes there are several factors that contribute to the increase. One of them is a collaborative between the county and the three chambers in Big Horn County. Morrison and town of Greybull Administrator Carrie Hunt feel the cooperation between the chambers and the county is a positive for the economic growth in the county with tourism tax dollars.
Morrison said that the county helped pay for two full page ads in the Wyoming Office of Tourism Travel Guide. The Basin Area Chamber, the Greybull and the Lovell Lodging Tax groups contributed to the funding of the ad as well. The ad promotes Big Horn County as a whole, a destination and a great place to spend a night or two for those wanting to visit Yellowstone.
The Familiarization aka Fam tours also area a factor. Recently a Fam Tour stopped in Greybull for lunch at Brandi’s Candies. The Fam Tour is put together by WOT.  They bring tour operators from all over the world to Wyoming. The goal is for those tour operators to bring their own tours back to Wyoming the following years. Owner Brandi Drewry said she is positive that some of those tour guides will be back. She heard nothing but rave reviews about lunch and about the beauty of the Big Horn Mountains.
This year’s tour started in Casper. After staying in Sheridan for the night they came over the Big Horns to Greybull. The lunch stop was arranged by the Basin Area Chamber. A SWAG bag with information about Big Horn County as well as promotional, stickers, business cards and information about thing to see and do in the county was presented to the tour operators. A representative from the Basin Chamber welcomed the group at Brandis. In previous years Fam tours have stopped in Shell and Lovell.
Recently Morrison attended an event sponsored by the WOT in Casper. She promoted Big Horn County to a group of international tour guides. Some of which were on this fam tour. Her message was this county has it all. Mountains, boating, hiking, biking, fishing, etc. without the crowds and the higher prices.
Another factor to the increase tourism is the relationship the chambers have with WOT. Jim Wollenburg, Global Partnership Sr. Manager has been a frequent visitor to the county. Representatives from the Basin and Lovell chambers have taken him to various places throughout the county. Including Wardell Reservoir, Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracks, the Bridger Trail (Burlington), Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting, Basin Boat Ramp, Five Springs Water Fall and Medicine Wheel. “He knows the Big Horn County is filled with many things to do and see.” said Morrison.
The travel impact report noted, “Overnight Visitor Volume for Big Horn County is based on cross-referencing visitor surveys, visitor air travel, and lodging data. Volume estimates therefore will differ from methodologies that rely solely on visitor surveys. Visitor Spending is a more reliable metric to Visitor Volume in accounting for changes in the travel industry, as it is more closely tied to economic data and lessens the variability from visitor surveys. Day travel estimates are not included because of data limitations.”
Eight million was spent in food service establishments and 3.6 million at food stores. Retail stores accounted for 4.5 million in travel spending.