Busy summer helped mountain towns rebound, but recovery will be long-term

Posted at 9:13 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 01:31:12-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- The summer tourism season has been surprisingly busy in the mountains after ski season came to a screeching halt in March.

"It’s great to see that the summer has rebounded," said Blair McGary, executive director for the Summit Chamber of Commerce.

McGary says although it's been a great summer, that doesn't mean businesses have made up all the revenue that was lost in the spring. March is typically one of the busiest months for businesses in mountain communities where tourism revolves around skiing.

"March was a hit and that is when a lot of businesses really do make up their revenue to pay their rent all through the summer," said McGary.

The Summit Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of members in order to better understand the economic impact. Results showed an estimated an $464 million in lost revenue for the community, over a six month period from March through August.

"Those numbers are absolutely staggering. We are finding that businesses are thriving and still doing OK, but a lot are really operating on very thin margins and we need to make sure we have a successful winter so these guys can keep their businesses open," said McGary.

When the snow starts to fly, expanded outdoor seating areas will change. McGary says some businesses are looking into heated tents or yurts to help boost capacity since indoor seating will continue to be limited.

"We’d probably be at about 35% capacity if it was just indoor," said Scooter Crawford, owner of the 5th Ave. Grille.

Crawford has expanded his Frisco restaurant with several tables right on Main Street. The street has been closed for most of the summer and he says the extra tables have allowed him to hire back most of his staff members who were laid off.

"Probably the busiest summer we’ve ever had as far as the restaurant since I’ve taken over, so it’s been... it’s saved our business for sure," said Crawford.