ALL NEWS

2020 brought 30% less in Utah tourism dollars, but 2021 is looking up

Dec 17, 2021, 10:23 AM
Utah tourism 2020...
Photo Credit: Utah Office of tourism, as part of their Red Emerald Strategy plan

SALT LAKE CITY — Visitor spending in Utah decreased nearly 30% in 2020 according to the annual travel and tourism report created by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute (the Institute) at the University of Utah.

In 2020, the Institute said that Utah tourism equaled $7.07 billion, a decline that directly impacted tourism jobs, wages, and tax revenue.

“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. 

However, the Institute said their report also shows a healthy recovery during the first part of 2021, especially in Utah’s rural regions. 

“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 2020 report include: 

  • Spending: Tourists spent $7.07 billion dollars in Utah economy, which was a 29.8% decrease from the previous year 
  • Jobs: Utah’s travel and tourism industry accounted for 119,600 jobs, which was a 13.5% deccrease from the previous year 
  •  Wages: Private travel wages declined by $1.6 billion dollars, while private air transportation wages declined by 4.7% 
  • Accommodations: Statewide hotel occupancy and daily room rates declined by 26.3% and 15.9 percent 
  • Visitation: Utah’s state parks saw a healthy increase of visitors, going up 32.5%, while national parks saw a decline of 27.3%. 

And while ski resorts were still operating under pandemic conditions, the ski season set a new record for the number of skier days, drawing $5.3 million. 

“The pandemic has made our Red Emerald Strategic Plan more important than ever,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.

“Utahn’s 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.” 

More on this topic:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
21 hours ago
Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due ...
Devin Oldroyd

Freezing weather causes delayed start for Cache County School District schools

Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due to weather conditions.
21 hours ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
21 hours ago
A two-vehicle crash Monday morning on U.S. Highway 40 claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. Photo ...
Mark Jones

Crash in Uintah County claims the life of a 19-year-old man

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A 19-year-old man died Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash occurred near milepost 137 at 7:11 a.m. The UHP says a 2017 Nissan Rouge was heading westbound. The 19-year-old victim was the driver of the Nissan Rouge. […]
21 hours ago
It's so cold today (Jan. 30) that plumbers are expecting calls anytime from customers needing servi...
Curt Gresseth

When it’s this cold, keep your pipes from freezing. Here’s how.

It's so cold outside today that a plumber has joined the show to share tips on keeping your pipes inside and outside your home from freezing.
21 hours ago
road home...
Allie Litzinger

The road home is in need of donations and volunteers this winter

SALT LAKE CITY — Cooler temperatures leave the homeless and unhoused service providers vulnerable. Road Home community coordination director Karissa Guthrie says they are in need of cold weather clothing and hand warmers most. These providers are always in need of donations no matter the season, however freezing temperatures only worsen the situation. “Lets say […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
2020 brought 30% less in Utah tourism dollars, but 2021 is looking up