There shouldn't be a lack of foreign visitors to Yellowstone National Park this year, although travel officials are concerned about whether Americans will visit the national park.
While there have been indications that domestic travel to Yellowstone in 1989 will slump in the wake of last year's forest fires, international travel to the park should continue strong, according to Chuck Box."What we're hearing is that the fire will not affect international tourism. We're worried here about what it's going to do domestically," said Box, manager of travel development for the Wyoming Travel Commission. "But internationally, no programs have been canceled. Programs have been added."
Box, who made a promotional tour to Australia last year, said the Yellowstone fires didn't generate much concern from Australians thinking of visiting the park.
"We were in Australia right during the height of the fire news, which was there on the nightly news just as it was here, and it didn't mean much because in Australia every year they have bush fires," he said. "They know how they work, they know how they regenerate. It didn't scare anybody off."
After visiting Australia, the travel official headed for England, where he found the English also weren't perturbed about the fires. Box said he and representatives from TW Recreational Services, Inc., the park's concessionaire, discovered that they "were preaching to the converted."
"The (Yellowstone travel) programs still exist and they're filling up," he said.
Box also pointed out the big dollars foreign travelers bring to Wyoming.
"Last year we had 280,000 international foreign tourists, and they spent about $67 million. And that's direct economic impact, that isn't a dollar which turns over seven times in a community," said Box. "That's direct. That's based on them spending $80 a day for three nights, which is an average day."
Although the fires in northwestern Wyoming captured the world's attention in 1988, they didn't have as great an effect on tourism in the state as many feared, according to figures collected by Box.