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Natrona County, Wyoming see tourism growth in 2022

Natrona County, and Wyoming as a whole, saw a significant growth in tourism from 2021 to 2022, data reveals.

More than 1,000 people attended the Chancey Williams concert at David Street Station on Wednesday, June 16, in downtown Casper. (Photos courtesy Brooke Montgomery/David Street Station)

CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County and Wyoming as a whole saw an increase in tourism during the previous fiscal year, according to recently released data from Travel Wyoming.

In FY 2022, Natrona County was host to more than 746,000 visitors, Visit Casper CEO Tyler Daugherty said. Those tourists spent roughly $349 million toward the local economy. That helped generate approximately $16.8 million in state and local taxes, and helped save Natrona County households an average of $510.

Daugherty said each number represents a steady increase from 2021. Tourist spending in the county jumped up by slightly more than $39 million from 2021, when approximately $310 million was reported. In terms of total visitors, the roughly 746,000 tourists to Natrona County is an increase from just over 730,000 in 2021.

Numbers are even more encouraging, Daugherty said, when looking at the change over the past decade.

“In 2013, travelers spent barely $300 million, and our [tourism industry] job growth has increased from 2,200 to 2,800 in that time,” he said. “Just looking at those figures and benchmarks, there’s been tremendous growth.”

The growth seen locally represents a statewide trend as well. In 2022, 7.5 million tourists visited the state and spent approximately $4.5 billion, which are increases of roughly 4% from the prior year.

Over the past decade, Natrona County has remained one of the state’s leaders in drawing tourists. In 2022, only Teton, Park and Laramie counties brought in more revenue from tourism.

Travel Wyoming uses a number of methods to calculate the approximate statistics, Daugherty said. This includes measuring hits on the Wyoming Department of Tourism’s website, working with local parks and other attractions to tally visitor rates, surveying tourism boards and more.

“They don’t just sit at the border and click every time somebody drives in, so these are approximations and estimates,” Daugherty said with a chuckle, “but they give us a pretty good idea of how things are looking.”

Daugherty attributed the growth in local tourism to several possible factors. Among them, he said, is marketing done by Visit Casper.

“This is an awesome and unique community with a lot of things to do and a wonderful story, and we get to market this community and share that story,” he said.

Daugherty also pointed to the many statewide and nationwide events hosted in Casper, such as the many Wyoming High School Activities Association championships and other events, the U.S. Biathlon National Championships and more. This year, the biathlon championships brought in more than 150 athletes. What excites Daugherty most is not the number of people who competed in the event, but the number of people who will have heard about Casper through the event, he said. Athletes from 19 states competed, and Daugherty said the impact that could be seen from people who were made aware of Casper through that event could be significant.

Looking to the future, Daugherty said Visit Casper seeks to bring other such events to Natrona County. In 2024 and 2025, he said, the Ford Wyoming Center will be home to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Women’s National Championships.

“We’re going to continue looking to bring more people here,” he said. “We can do that with our tremendous outdoor rec and access to fishing; we can do that through our wonderful facilities; and we can do that with the many state championships we host.”

The full Travel Wyoming report can be viewed online here.