BUSINESS

Downtown SLC thrives even without General Conference attendees

Sep 29, 2021, 5:59 PM
downtown slc general conference temple square...
(Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple, which is currently under renovation, during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple, which is currently under renovation, during the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ General Conference returns to downtown Salt Lake City this weekend, but for the fourth conference in a row, it will do so without an in-person audience. 

Business analysts say this hurts downtown economically, but the city is bringing visitors in other ways.

Downtown economy misses conference attendees, but finds other ways to grow

Officials with the Downtown Alliance say the city depends on the money that tourists bring. And, no, the conferences and conventions that downtown relies on have not come back in a significant way. 

However, Executive Director Dee Brewer says they’re noticing changes in travel trends.  He says the city has roughly 86 percent of the total number of visitors it did before the pandemic.

“While they might not be coming for conference, specifically, we believe that many of those families are still coming to Salt Lake City,” Brewer said.

Instead of seeing a steady rush of people coming from all over the world to attend the conference, Brewer says Utah receives visitors from closer by instead. Large numbers of road trippers head to Salt Lake City from nearby states like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

“We’re seeing hotels that are typically full during the week with business travelers are actually seeing higher occupancies on the weekend for these three and four day trips to the city,” according to Brewer.

Downtown visitors appreciate SLC shopping

Brewer says these tourists frequently use these trips to do some early Christmas shopping.

“City Creek Center has rebounded well.  Their sales are back to close to 2019 levels,” he said.

Brewer has another reason to be optimistic about the future of downtown Salt Lake City.  He says the conventions will return to normal, one day.  However, they’re already seeing a huge boost in the number of people moving into the city.  That’s going to diversify the city’s economy.

“We expect the resident population in the central business district to double in the next three years,” he said.

Bonneville International Corporation, the company that owns KSL NewsRadio, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today’s Top Stories

Business

chipotle cilantro soap...
Ramishah Maruf, CNN Business

Chipotle is selling a cilantro soap — and people can’t get enough

Whether you think cilantro is delicious or you think it tastes like soap, Chipotle is hoping to bridge the gap by bringing the world cilantro soap.
4 days ago
Inflation...
Curt Gresseth

US feeling pinch of inflation but economy is good, says economist

Americans are feeling inflation everywhere, but a University of Utah professor points out indicators like unemployment show our economy is thriving.
5 days ago
The Simpsons episode is seen missing on Disney+.
Photo Credit: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images...
Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Fans noticed a Simpsons episode is missing from Disney Plus in Hong Kong

An episode of the Simpsons that includes a scene in Tiananmen Square is missing on Disney+ in Hong Kong
8 days ago
Walmart guns...
Paul Nelson

FTC to investigate retailers and the supply chain crisis

Big box retailers are being told by the FTC to hand over what they know about the supply chain situation
8 days ago
small business saturday loans for Small businesses pandemic...
Heather Kelly

Small Business Saturday in Utah County deemed a huge success

For business owners in Utah County on Small Business Saturday, a lack of employees trumped supply chain issues.
8 days ago
FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appears on a screen as he speaks ...
MICHELLE CHAPMAN AP Business Writer

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO

Dorsey will be succeeded by Twitter's current Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal, but will remain on the board until his term expires in 2022.
8 days ago
Downtown SLC thrives even without General Conference attendees