Travelers to Utah spent a record $8.4 billion in the state in 2016 and generated an estimated $1.23 billion in total state and local tax revenue, according to a recent study completed by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
“2016 was another banner year for Utah’s travel and tourism economy,” said Jennifer Leaver, research analyst at the Gardner Policy Institute. “Utah’s national parks experienced the largest year-over-year growth in visitation since 1976 and Ski Utah reported an unprecedented number of skier days during the 2016-2017 season.”
Travel and tourism generated an estimated 144,200 total jobs in 2016 and around $5.6 billion in total wages. From 2015 to 2016, direct private leisure and hospitality jobs grew 3.9 percent and wages increased 7.4 percent, while all other direct private sector jobs and wages increased 3.8 percent and 6.0 percent, respectively. As for tourism-related tax revenues, from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2016 there was an 11.5 percent increase in transient room tax revenues, a 9.3 percent increase in motor vehicle rental tax revenue and an 8.8 percent increase in resort communities’ sales tax revenue.
“Travelers and tourists are directly contributing to Utah’s state and local coffers, paying sales and hotel taxes,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy research at the Gardner Policy Institute. “They further contribute as their spending spins through the Utah economy – creating jobs that generate additional income and sales taxes.”
Utah’s national park visitation grew 21 percent from the previous year to 10.1 million visits, while national monument visitation increased 18 percent and Utah state park visitation grew 16 percent. Likewise, 2016 accommodations sales were up 10 percent from the previous year and average daily hotel room rates rose over 5 percent in Grand, Washington, Garfield, San Juan and Wayne counties.
The full report is available here and includes the most recent travel and tourism-related data that were available at the time of publication; in most cases, data reflect 2016 activity.