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Labor Day marks end of tourism season, businesses see decline

Labor Day is end of tourism season, businesses see decline

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Millions of Americans are expected to travel this Labor Day Weekend.

The holiday marks the unofficial end of summer and at the same time, the end of tourism season. 

Tourism brings in millions of dollars to Idaho and Idaho Falls in particular.

The city serves as a hub for travelers, but surprisingly Labor Day Weekend doesn't mean an increase for local businesses. 

In a last-ditch effort for a final summer getaway, around 34 million people will travel this Labor Day Weekend. 

Tourism is a big industry for eastern Idaho; in 2011, Bonneville County alone raked in $143 million -- just behind Blaine County, home of Sun Valley.

"Blaine County came in at $146 million," said Linda Martin, CEO of Grow Idaho Falls. "So that was very competitive as far as the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector goes."

While you would think Labor Day Weekend is part of that economic boost, local businesses say it's actually pretty slow.  

"Kids are back in school, most families are geared for the fall and a lot of their traveling is done," said Larry Wolf, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn. "So you see that leisure market softening."

Hotels, like the Hilton Garden Inn, rely on special events to fill occupancy when heading into fall. 

"We get a lot of Korean people, we get a lot of Japanese people and a lot from Switzerland," said Jerry Mitchell, owner of Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill. "We actually had about 42 people from Switzerland come in the other day."

But Labor Day Weekend will still be a busy one.

AAA says 42 percent of travelers plan to visit family and friends, 25 percent will trek to the great outdoors, 24 percent will visit the ocean and 20 percent will go on a city escape.

As for restaurants, they'll rely on locals to keep them busy as the diverse clientele drops.

Not only is it Labor Day Weekend, but this Saturday marks the first day of the Eastern Idaho State Fair; so restaurant managers said they'll see a decline because everyone heads to the fairgrounds. 

Earlier this month, the Duck Race in Idaho Falls brought in a ton of customers, as did the 4th of July celebration so that helps balance it out. 

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