By: Jennifer Leaver
The homepage of the Utah Office of Tourism’s website (travel.utah.gov) introduces visitors to its Red Emerald Strategic Plan. This unique-to-Utah gemstone—the red emerald—symbolizes the quality of a Utah visitor experience: rare, distinct, and highly coveted. But how does a state tourism office and its regional partners balance a quality visitor experience with increasing visitation? One strategy is to advocate for sustainable travel through visitor education.
Utah’s visitor economy has experienced a strong recovery since the pandemic’s disruptive debut more than two years ago. Based on transient room tax revenue from accommodation sales, tourism in Utah’s rural regions had surpassed 2019 baseline levels by the end of 2020, while Utah’s urban counties regained footing a year later. By early 2022, rural accommodation tax revenue was up 65.3% and urban revenue was up 23.8% from 2019 baseline transient room tax revenue (see Figure1).
Figure 1. Percent Change in County Transient Room Tax Revenue Compared with 2019 Baseline
Note: Urban Utah includes Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber counties; Rural Utah includes all other 25 counties. Percent changes are based off corresponding