Visitors to tourist attractions in St. Louis are always late before COVID

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While visitor numbers are moving in the right direction, they are still a long way from where they were in 2019.

ST. LOUIS — As with many businesses, tourist attractions and museums experienced lengthy pandemic-related closures in 2020, beginning in March of that year. But now, two years after the pandemic first hit St. Louis, we are seeing a rebound in visitor numbers to these cultural and entertainment venues.

Some 7.6 million people visited the top 15 museums and tourist attractions in 2021, according to Business Journal research. This represents an increase from the 3 million in-person visitors in 2020 for these same destinations.

While visitor numbers are trending in the right direction, they are still a long way from where they were before COVID 2019, when these 15 museums and tourist attractions attracted nearly 14 million visitors. Total number of in-person visitors to the top 15 destinations this week List of the largest museums and tourist attractions in the Saint-Louis area declined by 78% from 2019 to 2020, due to temporary closures, reduced reopening capacities and a reluctance of some to go to exhibitions in times of COVID.

The unstable pandemic years for tourism have led to changes in the staffing of the institutions we surveyed – some institutions have increased their staff, while others have reduced their staff.

For example, the Saint Louis Art Museum reported 235 full-time employees in 2020 and 240 in 2021, but only 216 in February this year. Likewise, the St. Louis Science Center had 149 full-time workers in 2020, 111 in 2021 and 107 last month.

But that’s not all. Schlafly Beer, which ranked 19th on this year’s list of the biggest museums and tourist attractions, has increased its staff by 14% since 2021, reaching 137 full-time employees in February this year. The increase in staff is due to the company’s two new breweries, according to a Schlafly spokesperson.

Read the full story and check out the interactive visitor count charts on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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