Roosevelt Arch, 2019, NPS

Experts: Coronavirus Outbreak Could Impact 2020 Yellowstone Visitation

A worldwide coronavirus outbreak could impact 2020 Yellowstone visitation, as overseas travel from China and other Asian countries could be seriously curtailed in coming months.

Yellowstone National Park is a favorite destination for many overseas travels: its geysers and abundant wildlife makes for a virtually guaranteed good experience. But with travel to and from China heavily curtailed at the moment, travel experts say the impact of the coronavirus outbreak will surely be felt in 2020 Yellowstone visitation. A major impact isn’t likely to come from American visitors: yes, you can expect folks to stay home if the impact from a coronavirus outbreak increases, but the wide-open spaces of Yellowstone should be reassuring for many seeking a great road trip. From AP:

“Yes, we would anticipate it having some effect, but they are not our only customers,” Marysue Costello, executive director of the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, told The Billings Gazette.

Chinese tour groups are “100% suspended right now,” said Norma Nickerson, director of the Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

“We can be pretty sure we’ll see fewer visitors in the Yellowstone area from China this summer,” she added.

“Most Chinese are avoiding any type of travel. Period,” said Kenneth Zheng, a University of Wyoming professor who has acted as a Chinese tour liaison in the past. “Even domestic airfares in China are at historically low levels.”

There’s been no announced policies specific to 2020 from the National Park Service, though an official statement issued this week says NPS Office of Public Health and the U.S. Public Health Service officials are monitoring the situation.

Photo of Roosevelt Arch at sunrise by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.

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