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Teton County tourism jumps past ’19 levels

JACKSON  (WNE) — The spike in active Teton County coronavirus cases comes amid a wave of tourism.

By a couple of measures, more people are venturing to Jackson Hole on any given day this summer than in 2019, which itself was a strong tourism season.

The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has started using a cellphone data analytics firm, Placer.ai, to track numbers of nonresidents within town limits. Since the July 4 weekend, the estimate has ranged between 36,000 and 44,000 visitors daily.

Earlier in the season, tourism lagged behind 2019, often by double-digit percentage points.

That changed last week. Going into the weekend, this summer’s people count exceeded last year’s marks on four straight days, with the largest difference coming last Friday, when the year-over-year tourism estimate was up 9%.

Traffic data gathered weekly at Yellowstone National Park’s South Gate corroborates that more and more people are flocking to northwest Wyoming, even as the pandemic tightens its grip on the region.

The National Park Service declined to share nuanced visitation data with the Jackson Hole Daily, but Yellowstone officials have made weekly figures for the park’s entrance stations available to local elected officials.

Those figures show that the volume of vehicles flowing through the entrance station just past Flagg Ranch was steadily running below last year’s levels until around the last week of June. Each week since then more cars, SUVs and camper vans were tallied than in the same week in 2019.

The gains are most pronounced recently: During the week that ended July 12, South Gate counters detected nearly 14,000 vehicles, up approximately 15% from traffic the same week last year.

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