Utah Counties' Tourism Thriving, New Study Finds

Aug 8, 2014

A new study published by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research shows that despite setbacks during the year, Utah increased overall in tourism in 2013.

Jennifer Leaver with BEBR said the study is the first of its kind for the state, focused on a county level. She said the detailed breakdown allows researchers to see precisely where tourism is a vital industry in the state, and where tourism is seeing growth or decline.

Rich, Utah, Washington, Wasatch and Davis counties showed the greatest cumulative tourism increases over the year, while Carbon, Uintah, San Juan, Juab and Weber showed year-over decreases or flat performance. Leaver said a major reason for the state’s tourism success has been a result of campaigning ads.

“I know the office of tourism has had a very successful ‘Mighty-5’ campaign that they began to run in the spring of 2013,” Leaver said. “There was also an increase in skier visits in 2013 from last year… which could be based on a lot of marketing and word of mouth.”             

Though the state did well overall, Leaver said the government shutdown of fall 2013 did have an effect on tourism.

“It’s a fairly busy month in October for tourism, especially in southern Utah. So, it wasn’t long enough to be a huge impact but it definitely had an impact, and in some areas more than others,” Leaver said.

Leaver said the tourism industry has had steady growth since 2003, with year-over declines only during the recession of 2008 and 2009.