TWIN FALLS, Idaho The opening of a new LDS temple here in July is expected to be a boon for local hotels and tourism.
An official of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said more than 150,000 people are expected to visit the temple during a five-week open house that begins July 11, the Twin Falls Times-News reports.
"Our church has held many openings of temples and what we project is about 5,000 people per day will come to see the temple here in Twin Falls," said Elder Brent H. Nielson of Twin Falls, a member of the church's Quorum of Seventy. "There will be buses with people coming from as far as Soda Springs and Boise, so we expect a lot of people to be coming through Twin Falls at that time."
Hotel managers said they already are booking rooms for the temple dedication Aug. 23. Managers said they do not plan to increase room rates beyond summer rates, which are generally higher than offseason rates.
Nielson told Southern Idaho Hospitality, which represents the hotel and hospitality industry in south-central Idaho, to prepare for the summertime boom in visitors.
Restaurants also expect to see a sudden increase in business during July and August. Many LDS temples have small cafeterias that serve visitors, but the Twin Falls Temple will not include any food services.
After the open house, church officials estimate about 500 people will visit the temple each day.
"We anticipate that even after the opening there will be many people coming to the temple for the day and then staying the night in Twin Falls," Nielson said.
The demand for lodging and other accommodations for temple visitors already has attracted other hotels to the Twin Falls area.
The Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission has approved at least two preliminary applications to build near the temple site, including a hotel operated by Marriott International Inc.
The hospitality group estimates the open house will generate nearly $7 million in hotel revenue during the lengthy open house and from daily visitors after the temple is dedicated.
A new LDS temple that opened in Rexburg in February attracted thousands of visitors. That temple was the 125th built by the church, which has 13 million members worldwide.