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An analysis of credit card data shows that while a pandemic might be sweeping the country, national parks are seen as safe havens, and their surrounding lodging and restaurant businesses are, by and large, benefiting handsomely, according to the National Parks Traveler.

Those establishments located in gateway towns adjacent to parks are faring much better not only compared to their cross-state peers but also nationally, according to data compiled by Wombly, a small business data and software provider. To reach its conclusions, the company analyzed credit and debit card transaction data at 1,500 local businesses near 18 national parks.

For the week of Aug. 10, average weekly revenue at open businesses was:
  • +3% year over year (YoY) at lodging businesses
    • compared to -26% nationally
  • -6% YoY at restaurants (one of the best weeks of the year since the pandemic began)
    • compared to -23% nationally
  • +5% YoY at gas stations and convenience stores
    • compared to +16% nationally
  • +49% YoY at campgrounds and RV parks
    • compared to -69% nationally

Parks including in the analysis were Acadia, Arches, Badlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Carlsbad Caverns, Crater Lake, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountain, Joshua Tree, Mesa Verde, Olympic, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion.

The analysis notes that early on during the coronavirus pandemic that lodgings close to national parks closed at a much higher rate than was seen nationally in the lodging industry. But by June, with many parks starting to reopen, lodgings close to parks also reopened.

“In the earliest days of the pandemic (late March and early April), over 30 percent of lodging places near national parks had closed their doors. A much higher rate than those in the rest of the country,” the analysis found. “By early June, however, that figure had dropped down to match the national trend.”

Lodging revenues understandably rode that rollercoaster, but by mid-summer, those close to national parks were doing great business.

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