Business owners around the St. Louis area that cater to tourists are feeling a bit of a squeeze this summer. There's a bevy of reasons being bandied about: high gas prices; the nasty weather around St. Louis; a new Cardinals stadium with fewer seats and hard-to-get tickets?
Some local attractions and hotels wonder whether a ticket squeeze at the new, smaller Busch Stadium has discouraged tourists from visiting Cardinal Nation this summer.
Certainly, steep gasoline prices, sweltering heat, severe storms and road construction have tattered St. Louis' welcome mat. But those factors can't entirely explain an 8 percent dip in summer attendance at the St. Louis Zoo, president Jeffrey Bonner said.
Last year, 29 percent of the Zoo's out-of-town visitors attended a Cardinals game; this year, the number has dived to 14 percent.
...High gasoline prices usually boost tourism in St. Louis, said Nancy Milton, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. That's because families in Iowa, Arkansas and other nearby locales decide to stick close to home for vacation rather than fill up the SUV and drive to the Grand Canyon or the nation's capital, she said.
... But don't string up Chris Carpenter just yet. Not all St. Louis attractions are slumping.
The City Museum and St. Louis Science Center are enjoying attendance bumps, though a majority of those institutions' visitors are local. Half of Cahokia Mounds' visitors hail from outside Missouri and Illinois, and its numbers have remained steady.