Utah’s Tourism Industry is Struggling Amidst COVID-19

Emily Crofton | | BrainsBrains
Utah attracts visitors year-round. photo credit: Visit Utah

Signs once advertising “Visit Salt Lake”, encouraging visitors year-round to enjoy Utah for its endless recreational activities, now read “Stay home for now! We’ll see you later this summer!” Forced to suspend operations at all ski resorts, as well as at least two of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks, Utah is experiencing a drastic decline in tourism as a result of the coronavirus. Travel restrictions and stay-at-home policies are leaving the state’s hospitality, tourism, and travel industries struggling.

As a result of the current state of affairs, mass marketing utilized to bring visitors to the area has come to a halt. It has been recognized that encouraging travel and large gatherings in popular areas is irresponsible. With this, a $9.7 billion industry that normally delivers up to $26 million per day to Utah’s economy is at approximately 10% of that right now. Taking a significant hit financially, two-thirds of the nearly 140 tourism associated businesses in the Salt Lake City area that answered expect to lose 75%, possibly more, of their revenues in the next 30 days.

A sign indicating that Alta Ski Resort is closed for the season. photo credit: Deseret News

On top of the financial losses for major tourism industries in Utah, thousands of full-time workers have been laid off as a result. Among those individuals were hundreds of ski resort employees, who were sent home, some with a week or two of extra pay. It has been estimated that Utah’s ski sector has lost $232.4 million as a result of COVID-19. However, many hope that the worst effects of the pandemic are behind us and an economic recovery period for many sectors is around the corner.

Looking ahead, the chief financial officer, Cliff Doner, references previous viral outbreak analysis and believes that many will be itching to travel once health restrictions ease up. After an extensive period of time of social distancing and remaining at home, people will be more than ready to have fun again. That in mind, Utah is strategically crafting their advertising plan to be prepared for the appropriate turning point.

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