North Country tourist attractions seek looser restrictions for spring, summer

Tourist attractions in the North Country that were hit hard financially last year because of the coronavirus are hoping some changes can be made so they can provide more jobs and help the local economy.



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A representative for 17 White Mountain attractions told the governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force on Friday that last season was the worst they have had since World War II because of COVID-19 restrictions placed on those businesses.

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“Our employment numbers dropped to their lowest in years, down 30 to 50%, and our attractions suffered losses on average between 50 to 70%, equating to a deficit in the millions,” said Charyl Reardon, of the White Mountains Attractions Association.

Industry officials said their 2020 season was significantly shorter because of COVID-19, and when they opened between June and July, it was at 25% capacity. They are asking this year to start the season at 50% capacity, with the hope of raising that number by the middle of the summer.

“The attractions and the tourism industry as a whole continue to feel uncertainty and nervous, even with the vaccine, about the pandemic’s impact on the future of travel and vacations,” Reardon said.

“I think I speak for the task force in saying we hope and, indeed, expect that amusement parks in New Hampshire are going to be a very different place this summer than they were last summer,” said D.J. Bettencourt, the governor’s director of policy.

But public health officials also told the task force that, while many of the state’s COVID-19 numbers are encouraging, the virus is still a real and present threat.

“All of us are daydreaming about the adventures we would all like to go on, but I heard a great saying the other day, which is: ‘Don’t take your foot off the brake before you shift into park,'” said Patricia Tilley, deputy director of public health services. “And this is a time when we can’t yet take our foot off the brake.”

Any proposals made by the task force need to go to public health and to the governor for final approval.

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