IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – The summer of 2017 is going to be a busy one, full of events for Eastern Idaho. An estimated 2.2 million people are expected to visit the area for a number of events.
In April, the Temple Dedication and Open House begins, running through June. About 150,000 people are expected to be in town for that. In July, 150,000 are estimated to attend the Melaluca Freedom Celebration. Also in July, the Blue Angels Air Show is expected to draw a crowd of 50,000 people and in August, the total solar eclipse is estimated to bring in upward of 500,000 people.
Those crowds are on top of the annual 1 million summer visitors who stop by the area’s national parks.
“We need to take advantage of it,” Jan Rogers, CEO of Regional Economic Development Eastern Idaho said. ”You can not buy this kind of publicity.”
“With these four or five events, and they are all major events, we are going to see an immediate economic impact from them, but we are going to see long term economic impact as well,” said Rogers.
Businesses like Idaho Mountain Trading in downtown Idaho Falls is hoping that is the case as well.
“It will be wonderful,” said Cindy Napier, sales manager of Idaho Mountain Trading. “This will be an influx of people we have never seen before.”
Napier said the store is ordering special clothing for the event and bringing in more staff to help handle the extra business.
“Knowing that is going to be a really key time for us to be able to give the best customer service possible to help them fulfill the customer’s needs,” said Napier.
Rogers thinks Napier has the right idea. Rogers believes the financial impact will be large to businesses in Eastern Idaho.
“With these four or five events, and they are all major events, is we are going to see an immediate economic impact from them, but we are going to see long term economic impact as well,” said Rogers. “It could go for years. Once someone has had a great experience some place, even if this may not be good timing for them, they always keep coming back to that experience.”
Officials are also looking at how they are going to house all of the visitors coming to town. Hotels are currently booked. Rogers said by renting out a room in your home, non-business owners can make some extra money as well. A one-night stay in a home is going for $800 on Airbnb.
The city of Idaho Falls is looking at renting out camping space in area parks to help accommodate the crowds and make extra cash. The city says planning for the event isn’t as big of an issue as finding the resources needed to make everything run smoothly.
“One of the biggest challenges we have, has nothing to do with planning,” said Idaho Falls mayor Rebecca Casper. “It has to do with resources. We don’t have the resources, our departments — the finance department, fire, police and sanitation department to take care of all the needs of eastern Idaho. The other communities, they are smaller and they are even less prepared to handle the overtime and all the extra work involved.”