Salt Lake City (May 25,2016) – Travelers to Utah spent a record $7.98 billion in the state in 2014 and generated an estimated $1.09 billion in total state and local tax revenue, according to a recent study completed by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the David Eccles School of Business. Domestic and international visitor spending ($6.8 billion) exceeded Utah’s largest exports of primary metals ($4.2 billion) and computers and electronics ($2.4 billion), making travel and tourism the largest “export” industry in the state.
“Utah has a very diverse travel and tourism industry,” said Jennifer Leaver, research analyst at the Gardner Policy Institute. “Domestic and international travelers and tourists are drawn to Utah’s natural, cultural, and historical assets.”
Travel and tourism generated an estimated 137,200 direct, indirect and induced jobs in 2014 with an estimated $3.9 billion in wages. Travel and tourism-supported jobs grew 10 percent and tourism-related wages increased 21 percent from 2010 to 2014. Tourism-related sales tax revenues saw significant increases over this period as well, including a 30 percent increase in resort communities’ sales tax revenue, a 13 percent increase in statewide motor vehicle rental tax revenue, and a nine percent increase in combined transient room tax revenues.
“Utah’s strong travel and tourism industry is due in large part to the state’s geography, climate and natural amenities,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy at the Gardner Policy Institute. “Skiers and snowboarders are drawn to Utah’s 14 ski resorts during the winter months, while spring, summer and fall draw tourists to state parks, national parks and monuments, and other scenic areas throughout the state.”
Last year, Utah’s five national parks experienced a record 8.2 million total recreation visits. With the U.S. National Park Service celebrating its centennial this year, and first quarter visitation to Utah’s national parks up ten percent, 2016 looks to be another record year. According to the National Park Service, non-local visitation to Utah’s national parks and places generate over $700 million in spending and support over 11,000 Utah jobs.
The Utah ski industry made record investments in the off-season to enhance facilities for this winter that will attract tourists to the state in the coming years. Importantly, Park City, which is now owned by Vail Resorts, Inc., was recently combined with the former Canyons ski resort to form the nation’s largest ski resort. The Utah ski industry now attracts even more skiers and snowboarders because of the reach of Vail and their popular Epic Season Pass, which allows skiers unlimited access to Vail-owned ski areas throughout the country.
The full report is available at Eccles.link/tourism-apr16 and includes the most recent travel and tourism-related data that were available at the time of publication; in most cases, data reflect 2014 activity.