With the pandemic approaching the rearview, hopes for return of summer tourism across St. Louis


ST. LOUIS – Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kickoff for summer vacations.

Hotel management, as well as restaurant and attraction owners, have their fingers crossed, hoping this summer will be better than the summer of COVID-19.

Explore St. Louis is already seeing a 6% increase this month in hotel stays and customers paying more for rooms. The hope is that the trend will continue as the summer months unfold.

“We’re just super excited to be kicking off the summer together with St. Louis this year,” Karyn Wilder, general of the St. Louis Wheel, said.

The Wheel was closed for 70 days because of COVID, but Wilder is optimistic business is picking up and people are visiting from all over.

“Our parking lots are full of different license plates,” she said.

People who canceled trips last summer because of the pandemic are putting those vacation plans back on their calendar.

“This year, next weekend, we’ll go to Louisiana and Dallas,” said St. Louisan Amanda Brinson.

Ryan Brown and his family were visiting St. Louis from Iowa.

“We’re going to Colorado late in July,” he said.

Shelley Singleton is in charge of bringing 1,000 folks from Jacksonville, Illinois for a Cardinals weekend trip, a nice injection of money for the St. Louis economy.

“Several folks spend the night. Of course, we spend money on food and beer, and all that good stuff,” Singleton said.

St. Louis is lucky to have so many attractions like The Gateway Arch, the zoo, and Six Flags, which no longer requires masks or reservations. The theme park has increased crowd capacity from 25% to 100%.

“We are most definitely expecting it to be a good year and expecting guests to come out in full force,” Elizabeth Gotway, a spokeswoman for Six Flags, said.

Explore St. Louis cites an UMSL study showing visitors to St. Louis contribute approximately $5 billion to the local economy every year.

More than 28 million folks visit our community and the tourism industry provides jobs for 90,000 people. Local hotels in the area could not survive without tourism.

And restaurants, like Cunetto House of Pasta, know summer is important filling up their dining rooms.

“I’m really optimistic and hopeful for this summer and people will start traveling again,” owner Frank Cunetto said.

The UMSL study also claims that tourism kicks in just over a billion dollars in tax revenue to the city.

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