Tourism Growth Expected in Southeastern Idaho

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Idaho’s tourism industry employs more than 26,000 workers and adds $3.4 billion to the state’s economy, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That means about 3.4 percent of Idaho’s workforce is employed in tourism or tourism-related enterprises.

Local tourism organizations apply for and receive grants through the Idaho Travel Grant Program and leverage the state’s natural beauty and low cost of doing business to attract film productions. The department also works with local communities to promote local festivals, niche attractions and professional conferences.

The efforts seem to be paying dividends. According to the Idaho Department of Labor’s Long-Term Industry Projections for 2010-2020, several industries related to tourism will see employment increases.

Jobs at amusement, gambling and recreation businesses should increase  by more than 22 percent by 2020 from 7,310 in 2010 to 8,940. Hotel employment is expected to grow from 8,150 in 2010 to 9,280 workers by 2020.

Like the rest of the state, southeastern Idaho has also made efforts to draw tourists, taking advantage of its location. The area’s seven counties surround the Interstate 15 corridor, which is not only a transportation gateway, but a major artery to Yellowstone National Park.

In addition to being near Yellowstone, the region hosts the annual Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot during  September, which draws thousands of visitors who patronize local hotels and restaurants.

The nearby Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center in Fort Hall offers several large meeting and conference rooms, a choice of restaurants, a spa and modern rooms with the amenities of a luxury hotel. The event center has also hosted several concerts and performances since it opened just over a year ago. Adjacent to the hotel is a casino offering a wide variety of gaming.

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes also plan to add a water park to the complex.

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Bear Lake, which is shared with Utah, draws visitors from all over the West. The lake is known for sapphire blue waters and many affordable recreational activities.

The Idaho Labor Department’s long-term projections show jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation will increase from 506 in 2010, to 618 by 2020, over 22 percent, while hotel and restaurant employment is forecast to rise 17.5 percent to over 5,200.

More growth in tourism is likely in the coming years as new tourism-related businesses continue to open in the region such as the Horse Station, an equestrian focused vacation complex in Franklin. The new business will provide about 100 jobs when it opens, likely next year.

Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713

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This article originally appeared in the November issue of the Idaho Department of Labor’s monthly economic and employment newsletter. Interested in reading more articles like this? Please send an email to Donna.Corn@labor.idaho.gov to subscribe to the newsletter.