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  • April 2013 Utah Economic Outlook
    by Randy Shumway, Zions Bank Economic Advisor
    Published - 04/16/13 - 01:17 PM | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    (SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) - Utah’s economy is dependent on revenue from a robust set of different, but often interrelated sectors. Utah’s $6.5 billion tourism industry is a vital part of the state’s economy, and is expected to continue growing. Tourism-related employment accounts for over 124,000 jobs in the state, and tourism generated roughly $890 million in state and local tax revenue last year. Utah has witnessed steady growth in the tourism industry. In 2012, the Utah Tourism Coalition reported a 9 percent annual increase in the number of travelers visiting the state—more than 22 million international and domestic tourists experienced Utah’s myriad indoor and outdoor attractions and recreational opportunities.

    Based on trends in recent years, the future of Utah’s tourism industry is promising. Credit for the growth in this industry in recent years can be attributed, in part, to the state’s marketing efforts. The Utah Office of Tourism’s Marketing Performance Fund developed the highly successful “Utah: Life Elevated” campaign in 2006. The goal of this marketing campaign was simple: to increase national and international awareness of and visitation to the state. Recognizing the value of effective marketing, the state legislature recently awarded the Performance Fund $12 million for marketing in 2013—the majority of which will be allocated to Utah’s $1.2 billion winter sports industry. This represents a substantial funding increase from $9 million in 2011 and $7 million in 2010. New infrastructure investment by state leaders and businesses will also strengthen the tourism industry. Governor Gary Herbert recently signed a bill supporting the creation of the Utah Outdoor Recreation Office, which will set outdoor policies and promote outdoor activities in the state. The Salt Lake International Airport has committed to improve its overstressed facilities with a $1.8 billion terminal redevelopment project designed to smooth the path for tourists visiting the state.

    Income from tourist spending is critical for many sectors of the Utah economy beyond the outdoor sports industry. As visitors experience the range of different cultural, retail, and event-based options the state has to offer, they spend money at local businesses. It is estimated that since The City Creek Center opened in downtown Salt Lake City in March, 2011, 30 percent of the 16 million visitors came from out of state. This figure demonstrates the degree to which out-of-state visitors benefit Utah businesses and establishments.

    The trend of increasing tourism to the state is indeed a positive sign for economic growth in the future.

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