- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Oilfield workers are packing Wyoming’s hotels and staying there longer as the state’s oil and gas development grows.

Nearly 87 percent of Casper’s 53,000 hotel rooms were booked in July and August, many by oilfield workers, The Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1rdkHWu) reported Sunday. Hotel occupancy rates are also rising in cities such as Cheyenne and Gillette, which serves the increasingly active Powder River Basin. That city’s occupancy rate was 72 percent through August, up from 53 percent over the first eight months of last year.

Aaron McCreight, head of the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the spike is partly because the state is experiencing an oil boom that is helping the overall economy. Officials say drilling is up, and there are more oil and gas jobs now than there were last summer.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Casper’s economy grew by 7.1 percent in 2013.

“It’s oil and gas. That’s what drives the state,” McCreight said, noting that oilfield workers account for about 45 percent of Casper-area hotel guests. The growing economy has also been a boon for tourism, necessitating more rooms, he said.

But oilfield workers stay longer than typical guests, sometimes for weeks or months.

“It’s hard to get an apartment because we don’t know if we’re going to be here for a year or a month or a week or two days,” said Tino Gonzalez of Bakersfield, California. “Being away from family for so long, it’s nice to be able to call someplace home, and this is where we call our home.”

Two new hotels are being built in Casper to accommodate the new visitors.

Several new hotels opened in Casper in 2008, as the economy was entering a recession. But officials and developers are cautiously hopeful that the city’s growth will continue.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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