By Elsa Heidorn and Bob Beck
Laramie, WY – Wyoming's energy boom could be hurting tourism in the state. That's the report from a hotel market analyst who tracks occupancy rates around the West. Bob Benton just published the latest Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, and he found that it's very difficult to find hotel rooms in Rock Springs, Rawlins, Pinedale and Gillette. Many of those rooms are occupied by energy workers. Benton says many of those cities are building hotels now, but in the meantime, Wyoming's reputation as a good place to vacation is being damaged.
"Some of these people who were turned away before, were staying in the type of hotel maybe they didn't want to stay in. They might say, we'll next time I'm going to go to Montana instead of going to Wyoming," he said.
But the state tourism director, Diane Shober, says Wyoming draws visitors because of its spectacular natural beauty and activities, not because of hotel rooms. And she says Wyoming towns are working to address the lack of accommodations right now.