Report finds Utah’s tourism industry had record growth in 2021

Feb 15, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: 6:41 pm

Long lines and heavy traffic are expected at Zion National Park this summer as they prepare for the...

FILE: Long lines and heavy traffic are expected at Zion National Park this summer as they prepare for the Fourth of July. (Deseret News)

(Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2021, Utah’s travel and tourism industry experienced record spending and visitation, that’s according to the most recent annual industry report released Wednesday by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Additionally, the report also reported that visitor spending in 2021 was up 49.5% from the previous year to a record $10.56 billion.

“Visitor spending returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. And remained strong through the first part of 2022,” said Jennifer Leaver, senior tourism analyst for the Gardner Institute, in a news release. “However, Utah’s travel and tourism industry continues to face challenges including a service-industry labor shortage, the continued lag in international visitation, and inflationary headwinds.”

Key findings in the report

  • Jobs – A total of 89,600 were provided by the state’s travel and tourism industry in 2021. Nearly 6% of Utah jobs in 2021 were supported by tourists either directly or indirectly.
  • Tax revenue – An estimated $1.81 billion in total tax revenue was generated from the $10.56 billion in direct tourist spending and an additional $9.12 billion in indirect spending. 
  • Accommodations – In 2021, the taxable sales in the accommodations category totaled $2.62 billion. 
  • Visitation – Popularity in the national and state parks in Utah grew in 2021. The national and state parks saw year-over increases of 45% and 9.8% 

“Our Red Emerald Strategic Plan is more important than ever,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Office of Tourism in a news release. “Utahns and out-of-state visitors are passionate about our state’s wonders. We are optimistic that we can continue to create a perpetual visitor economy by encouraging the thoughtful discovery of our treasured places.”

The full report can be found here

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Report finds Utah’s tourism industry had record growth in 2021