Blog Post

Insight: Sunshine Before the Storm: How Utah Tourism Gleamed Before COVID-19

By: Jennifer Leaver

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

For the ninth consecutive year, Utah tourism has shined, setting record after record for increased spending, jobs, wages, tax revenue, and visitation. In fact, in early 2020 it looked as if Utah’s tourism industry was set up for its tenth consecutive record year—that is, until a global pandemic arrived and threw the industry into a tailspin. The COVID-19 pandemic hit Utah’s leisure and hospitality industry harder than any other sector. In April 2020, year-over-year leisure and hospitality job losses were 66,000, or a 43.1% decline. By August, the sector’s jobs were down 16.8% from last year—a little better, but far from ideal (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Leisure and Hospitality Employment in Utah, 2019 vs. 2020

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

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