Resort communities struggling during coronavirus pandemic
Typically, this time of year families are hitting the road for summer vacations, in search of places to cool off. But this summer as COVID-19 rages, many Americans are staying home.
In a typical summer, the Tommy Bartlett Show draws several 100,000 tourists to its Wisconsin Dells arena to bear witness toe perilous water skiing feeds. That was last season. This is now facing social distancing restrictions. Owner Tone Deal made the difficult decision to close this summer for the first time in this shows nearly 70 year history. Could you possibly open safely? Given the fact that our business model is based upon having 2500 people in this amphitheater every single day for 110 straight days? And the answer was no, there was no way we could do it. Deal is one of several business owners in the Wisconsin Dells feeling pandemic pain this summer. The Dells is officially Wisconsin's top tourist destination and unofficially the nation's water park capital, attracting four million tourists last year who brought in nearly $2 billion. This year, the pandemic forced attractions two close for two months, and tourists have been slow to return. At the original Duck boat tour, ticket sales are down 40%. Noah's Ark, the nation's largest water park, reporting the same. For generations, tourism has been the city of Dale's life, blood Either you work in a resort or you own a resort, you know everything we do. Here's tourism related, but with tourism down, so is the tax revenue. And now city Treasurer Karen Terry is struggling to balance the budget. Anything that was not already in the works that was going to be spent with the tourism dollars will not be moving forward. The city's put on hold plans to purchase two new police cars. Ah, filter for the public pool, a generator for the community storm shelter, even new windows for the police station to have a business and have watched that erode with something like over 19. Boy, those are Those are just tough things to swallow. When the pandemic hit, Mike Kaminski, owner of Chula Vista Resort, was forced to furlough more than 400 employees. Since reopening, weekday business is down more than 60% and convention and wedding bookings have plummeted were north of $15 million of lost revenue. Business owners worry a covitz spike or second wave could force more closures and put this water park capital underwater. I don't want to end this way, so we're going to give it everything we have to get open next year. For now, in this community known for rough waters, high hopes for smoother sailing in the months to come. Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.