“We have to think first of the safety of their customers,” said Tyron. “I don’t think putting a customer in that kind of situation is a safe choice.”
The event, which now has over 2 million Facebook users claiming they will attend, with another 1.4 million claiming they are interested, has caused two Nevada counties to sign emergency declarations.
County officials are concerned that a surge of visitors will crowd campsites, gas stations, public medical facilities, and impact internet and cellphone services. Officials have given a count of just 184 hotel rooms in the county nearly twice the size of the Connecticut.
Oh, we’re taking this seriously,” Lincoln County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal . “With the possibility of 35,000 to 40,000 people showing up, yeah, this is serious.”
One of the related festivals was set to take place in a town called Rachel, located approximately 148 miles north of Las Vegas with a population of 54.
According to the town’s website the festival was cancelled because “the creator of the Storm Area 51 movement pulled out because he feels the event is not safe and lacks organization.”
Tyron has been running his Area 51 tour for over 18 years and says he is not surprised the Facebook event went viral.
“It’s simply a rebound of the American desire to know,” he told reporters. “Although storming Area 51, I think, isn’t a good idea. They take that whole place seriously.”
Tyron says that those staying in Las Vegas for the event won’t be able to get there and back on one tank of fuel, and traffic or other incidents could exacerbate the problem.
“Getting caught in the desert isn’t a good thing,” he said. “You can dehydrate and end up with serious issues.”
He recommends traveling with a legitimate tour operator and avoiding the weekend of “Storm Area 51” related events.
Lauren Hillhouse, a GetYourGuide’s destination manager, told reporters that interest in the area usually comes from travelers in the US, but recently there has been a spike in searches from places in South America and Europe.
According to GetYourGuide, the Area 51 activities web page, has seen 20 times its normal web traffic in the past month.
“I think they’re looking for attractions, but what they are finding are tours,” said Hillhouse. She also recommends that visitors, “go through a verified source, do your research and be prepared for it.”
Tyron says he “fell in love” with the Southwest around 27 years ago, and plans to be out during the events with his own film crew.
“The American people want to know what’s going on at Area 51, and they deserve to know what’s happening at Area 51,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.