Posted on Jul 27, 2021, 4:42 PMUpdated on Jul 27, 2021, 5:38 PM
Miles of traffic jam in the middle of nature. The scene is repeating itself every day, right now, in Yellowstone, but also in most American national parks, stormed by tourists frustrated by months of restrictions. Since the Independence Day weekend (July 4), which marks the start of summer vacation in the United States, American parks have been breaking attendance records.
In May, Yellowstone had already broken its all-time attendance record, with more than 483,000 visits for the whole month. Since the start of the year, the park, mostly located in Wyoming, has seen its attendance increase by 14% compared to 2019. If the trend continues, it should experience the busiest year in its history.
Return on investments
Some parks have had to turn away people, like Arches National Park in Utah, which was sold out these days. Others have limited access to sites by setting up reservation systems which find themselves taken by storm. Attendance at the Grand Canyon, which had halved last year – to just under 3 million visitors – is expected to return to pre-crisis levels this year.
Las Vegas symbolizes this return of optimism, in all its excesses. Immediately after the announcement of the lifting of restrictions in “Sin City” in June, tens of thousands of American tourists flocked to hotel-casinos on the Strip – most often without a mask, which in recent weeks has sparked a rise in coronavirus cases in Nevada.
Las Vegas nevertheless wants to mark its return to the forefront and the first casino opened in the city for more than ten years was inaugurated at the end of June. The Resorts World Las Vegas, which cost a whopping $ 4.3 billion, has been filling up since its opening and is already planning several concerts in the coming weeks, including Celine Dion.
Borders still closed
These attendance records are broken without most of the international tourists who normally visit the country during this period. The United States is one of the most restrictive countries when it comes to travel. Nationals of the European Union, for example, still cannot enter freely.
And no one knows when the situation will return to normal. “The return of international travelers is one of the priorities of the Biden administration and the federal government,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo a few days ago. Except that, apart from the creation of working groups with certain countries to consider the gradual return of travelers, no concrete progress has been made.
The airlines are lobbying intensively for the Biden administration to change its positions. But the White House remains cautious, especially since the development of the delta variant, and wants to rely on science before authorizing a reopening of the borders. “We know that international travel can pick up again, especially with countries that have similar immunization levels to the United States,” said Roger Dow, director of the US Travel Association, a professional organization of travel stakeholders. tourism.
It will indeed take much more than a successful season to restore color to the sector. American hotels and restaurants thus still have a deficit of 1.3 million jobs compared to the start of the crisis – by way of comparison, logistics and warehouses have gained 100,000 jobs over the same period.