Utah’s travel and tourism industry on path to recovery, annual report shows

///Utah’s travel and tourism industry on path to recovery, annual report shows

Utah’s travel and tourism industry on path to recovery, annual report shows

December 15, 2021 (Salt Lake City) – The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute today released its annual travel and tourism report, showing Utah visitor spending was down 29.8% to $7.07 billion in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This spending decline negatively affected tourism jobs, wages, and tax revenue. Despite the adverse impacts of the pandemic, the report also indicates a healthy recovery during the first half of 2021, particularly in Utah’s rural regions.

“Utah experienced record visitor spending in every year from 2009 to 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic set annual visitor spending back 10 years and caused a statewide loss of 18,800 tourism-related jobs and millions in tax revenue,” said Jennifer Leaver, senior tourism analyst at the Gardner Institute and lead author of the report. “Still, Utah’s tourism industry fared better compared with the region and U.S. as a whole, attributable to our wide-open spaces, numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, and effective marketing campaigns.”

Key points from the report include the following for 2020:

  • Spending – Visitors directly spent $7.07 billion in the Utah economy, a 29.8% year-over decrease.
  • Jobs – Utah’s travel and tourism industry accounted for an estimated 119,600 total jobs, a 13.5% year-over decrease.
  • Wages – Year-over private travel and tourism-related employment sector wages declined 10.4%, while private air transportation wages declined 4.7%.
  • Tax Revenue – $7.07 billion in direct visitor spending generated an estimated $1.16 billion in total tax revenue, a 17.9% year-over decrease.
  • Accommodations – Taxable sales in the accommodation sector neared $1.6 billion, a 25.5% year-over decrease; meanwhile, statewide hotel occupancy rates and daily room rates were down 26.3% and 15.9%, respectively.
  • Visitation – Utah’s state park visits increased 32.5% from 2019 to 2020, while national park visits were down 27.3%. Despite operating under pandemic conditions, Utah’s 2020-2021 ski season set a new record for the number of skier days (5.3 million). Analysts expect travel in 2022 to continue to rebound.

“The pandemic has made our Red Emerald Strategic Plan more important than ever,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Office of Tourism. “Utahns and out of state visitors are passionate about our state’s wonders. We are encouraging more immersive travel off the beaten path to create a perpetual visitor economy.”

The full report is now available online.

2021-12-15T08:49:49+00:00December 15th, 2021|News|