March 23, 2021 (Salt Lake City) – The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute today released a report highlighting the significant economic impact Zion National Park has on Utah’s travel and tourism industry and how improvements proposed at the park’s east entrance have the potential to generate 545 jobs and $36.9 million in GDP per year from 2020 to 2030 in Southwestern Utah.
The report analyzes the future economic impacts of these proposed east Zion developments on Kane and Washington counties over 10 years and considers their potential to distribute visitation. These proposed developments include a new visitor center, electric shuttle fleet, hiking trails, and lodging. While park visitor spending generates personal earnings and state and local tax revenue, high visitation can have unintended consequences, such as diminishing the quality of the visitor experience. The Utah Office of Tourism Red Emerald Strategic Plan calls for improving the visitor and community experience as these developments are completed.
“Zion National Park is a top driver of Utah’s travel and tourism economy,” said Jennifer Leaver, Gardner Institute senior tourism analyst and lead author of the report. “One hundred years after its 1919 designation, Zion ranked as the fourth most-visited of all 62 U.S. national parks. In this study, we worked with park managers and stakeholders to project Zion visitation over a 10-year horizon. We considered recent visitation trends, the self-limiting effects of park crowding, and the possible impacts of proposed east park developments to help local decision makers make informed decisions on the future of Zion.”
Key findings from the report include the following:
Zion is Utah’s Most Popular National Park – One-third of all Utah national park spending was by Zion National Park visitors, and over 40% of all Utah national park visitors made a trip to Zion.
Zion NP Experienced Record Spending in 2019 – In 2019, Zion NP visitors spent a record $253.6 million in Kane and Washington counties, supporting 4,438 jobs, $140.5 million in earnings, $235.3 million in GDP, and $42.2 million in state and local tax revenue.
National Park Visitors are Big Spenders – Park visitors are one of Utah’s top visitor spending groups, with an estimated $1,133 spend per travel party per stay in 2019, and an estimated annual statewide spend of over $434 million outside of the park and its surrounding gateway communities.
East Zion Developments Would Create Significant Economic Impacts in Kane County – Proposed east entrance developments would support an average of 451 new jobs each year from 2020 to 2030, along with $16.5 million in additional earnings, $29.6 million in new GDP, and $4.4 million in added state and local tax revenue per year.
East Zion Developments Would Also Create Positive Economic Impacts in Washington County – Proposed east entrance developments would support an average of 94 new jobs each year from 2020 to 2030, along with $4.3 million in additional earnings, $7.3 million in new GDP, and $1.1 million in added state and local tax revenue per year.
“Public-private investment in infrastructure, including a new visitor center, electric shuttle system, over 40 miles of new trails, and new lodging and retail services, will help with Zion National Park overcrowding and create both good jobs and economic growth across Kane and Washington counties,” said Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain.
The full report is now available online.