By: Jennifer Leaver
In the early 1990s, I spent three summers living and working in Moab, Utah. At the time, Moab was transitioning from a uranium boomtown/ranching community to a thriving tourism economy. Located between two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands) and bordered by the Colorado River, Moab offers limitless outdoor recreation opportunities to adventure-seekers from around the world. While living there, I worked in a variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and retail shops. I had friends that worked as river guides, EMTs, bus drivers, photographers, and recreational outfitters. The perks of working in a tourist town—stunning scenery, ample recreation opportunities, and meeting people from all over the world—kept us coming back each summer.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, in the U.S. and Utah, travel and tourism supports 1 in 10 jobs. In 2016, visitors spent a total of $8.54 billion, supporting 146,500 jobs in Utah. Travel and tourism directly provides jobs in foodservice, accommodations, arts, amusement, recreation, transportation, and retail. These jobs support additional employment in areas like real estate, wholesale trade, marketing, and healthcare. It is a common perception, however, that travel and tourism jobs are low-paying, part-time, or seasonal. While true of some travel-oriented jobs, this is not true of all travel-oriented jobs. Many jobs directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry are full-time, non-seaso