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Will SLC Tourism Suffer During Major Temple Square Renovations?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — In terms of popularity, Salt Lake City’s Temple Square is the No. 1 tourist and visitor destination in Utah. Every year, between 3 and 5 million people visit the site.

So, how might those numbers be affected when the renovations begin?

Those who crunch those numbers every year aren’t overly concerned. Yes, they say, there will be some inconveniences, but in the long run, this massive re-do will be a good thing.

“It is the cultural anchor of our destination. Its importance is unrivaled in terms of things that are happening in Salt Lake,” Visit Salt Lake’s President and CEO Scott Beck said Friday.

In terms of a tourism magnet, Temple Square is it. Right in the middle of downtown. Not many cities have such an icon. Winter or summer, millions make it a point to stop here to learn of the history and admire the architecture. For many, the holiday light display is an annual must-see.

Jay Kinghorn, Associate Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism puts it this way, “We often equate it to if a traveler is going to Rome, they’re going to see Vatican City. The same way here. If somebody is coming to Salt Lake City they need to experience Temple Square, it’s the heart and history of Salt Lake City.”

But, will tourists keep coming in huge numbers when they learn of the 4-year renovation of the temple and redesign of the grounds?

The good news is, much of Temple Square will remain open to the public during the project, and tourism officials in Utah are extremely grateful for that.

“The way they’re opening up Temple Square, everything they’re doing, as they say, to make the visitor experience better, we couldn’t ask for a better outcome from what they announced today,” Beck said. “First and foremost, we want to say thank you to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their commitment to keeping this cultural anchor so vibrant and sustain its future,” he said.

Governor Gary Herbert said the project will come with some dust and noise from time to time.

“There were be some frustrations. Clearly we’ll have some construction elements here, closing some streets on occasion… a little harder to get around Temple Square,” he said. “But, I think that’ll be offset by the curiosity by the people coming to Utah.”

“Overall we’re not too concerned,” Kinghorn said. “We know we’re in pretty good hands. They’ve done a lot of good planning.”

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