Attractions in El Paso County ask for variance to reopen to visitors

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 17:26:48-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Tourist attractions in El Paso County have asked governor Jared Polis for a variance to reopen. The 26 member businesses that make up the Pikes Peak Region Attractions worked with county commissioners to prepare that request which was submitted on Tuesday along with requests to reopen gyms, libraries, movie theaters, and malls.

Some of the Pikes Peak Attractions have already reopened. However, the limitation on groups of 10 people or less has caused others to remain closed.

"The business has been hit pretty hard. I mean, we lost Spring Break, we lost Memorial Day weekend," said Trip Uhalt, public relations manager for Cave of the Wind.

The cave officially reopened on Friday. Employees are following public health guidelines and have installed plexiglass barriers at the cash registers, set up hand sanitizer stations, and separated tables in the cafe by the proper 6 feet.

Many of the attractions thrill rides like the Terror-dactyl are open. However, the namesake cave tours are still closed.

"We're just waiting for the green light from the Governor for cave tours because there are some distancing issues," Uhalt said. "Technically we comply, but we're just waiting to make sure it's okay with Governor."

They're also limiting the number of guests who can visit in a day to half of their capacity.

Commissioner Longinos Gonzales Jr., who also serves on the county board of health, said he feels confident that the testing data for COVID-19 in our community remains low enough for these businesses to reopen.

"We've seen very low numbers and we've kept them low in the last several months," Gonzales said. "So, that's why I do feel comfortable going forward with these re-openings that can be done timely and be done safely."

Tourism is a big business in our community generating around $2 billion per year in economic activity.

PK Knickerbocker, Executive Director of Pikes Peak Region Attractions said the members of her group are family-owned businesses.

"I hate to say that they're starting to get desperate, but that really is the truth and it's scary, it's scary," Knickerbocker said. "The few folks that are open are somewhere between 35 to 50 percent of what their business was at this time last year."

Around 10 of the 26 member attractions remain closed. However, a couple of them plan to reopen later this month. Knickerbocker hopes that people in Southern Colorado will consider stopping by and supporting these businesses for a "stay-cation."

Click here to get the latest information on which attractions are open.