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Record breaking year for Utah’s tourism industry

(Photo Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – It seems like tourists love spending money in Utah.  State tourism officials say out-of-towners spent $9.75 billion in the last fiscal year, breaking the all-time record.

The Utah Office of Tourism says that kind of spending translates into $1.3 billion in tax revenue, which is creating a lot of tax relief for Utah families.

“That’s $1,275 that you and I would have to pay in taxes somewhere else if we didn’t have tourists visiting the state,” according to UOT Managing Director Vicki Varela.

Analysts say this spike in revenue can’t be linked to just one specific event.  Ski industry officials say last season was fantastic, plus Salt Lake City hosted the United Nations Civil Society Conference.  However, Varela says the vast majority of people are coming to Utah simply to look at the scenery.

“We’re becoming a year-round destination.  So, when you compare our tourism economy to surrounding states, we have more year-round visitation than all our competitors,” she says.

The state is getting a lot of visitors from Canada, Europe and especially China.  However, Varela says there’s another market they want to tap into.  They’re trying to lure in tourists from India.

Varela says, “They like to travel as families.  They like to have adventures.  Most importantly, they travel off-season.”