According to a report, Utah’s tourism and travel industry is bouncing back from pandemic setbacks.
It’s among the most profitable sectors in the state that contributed $7.07 billion to Utah’s economy and sustained thousands of jobs in the past year, according to a recent report of the Kem C. Gardener Policy Institute at the University of Utah.
Compared to the rest of the U.S., Utah saw more visitor spending and more trips as people stepped away from cities and towards outdoor destinations such as the state’s five national parks.
Prior to the outbreak, the thriving Utah tourism and travel industry had already broken records in terms of visits and funds and was on track to keep that trend going, according to official data.
Despite the tourism and travel sector being the most severely affected by the pandemic in 2020, it was noted in the report that the industry had a “healthy recovery” during the beginning of 2021, especially in rural regions.
“Domestic visitors traded their plane trips for road trips, hotel reservations for short-term rentals, and their urban-centered plans for rural adventures,” the report stated.
Southwest Utah is the third most profitable area for leisure and hospitality taxable sales in Utah with more than $730 million taxable sales. Washington County is the fourth most profitable county with more than $600 million in taxable sales.
The only industry that made it through 2020 unharmed was the RV Parks and Camps industry with a 12 percent increase in leisure and hospitality taxable sales, while the other tourism industries lost millions of dollars.
This year, although COVID-19 Delta and the Omicron variant continue to impede visits, travel is predicted to rise, according to experts.