Utah’s Tourism Industry Feeling Impact From COVID-19 Pandemic
Jul 27, 2020, 11:29 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2020, 10:54 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s tourism industry is preparing to launch an aggressive campaign to bring more people to Utah as the industry continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really been very devastating,” said Cody Adent, executive director of the Utah Tourism Association. “I think there are businesses that aren’t going to be able to recoup from this.”
In his position in the association and as the vice president of Vibrant Management, a company that manages tourism and hospitality businesses, Adent has seen firsthand how the virus has put the brakes on trips that would have otherwise boosted Utah’s economy.
“There’s properties that typically do a half a million dollars a month that only did $20,000 in the month of April,” he said. “So, if you’re not fiscally equipped to handle that kind of loss, it’s really almost impossible to rebound from.”
The office of tourism has been working to get the message out within a 680-mile radius of the state, or those within driving distance. The state recently cut tourism marketing and performance funding by half. But they still have money from the federal CARES Act they plan to use on an aggressive campaign to get people to explore all that Utah has to offer.
Adent said visitors spent more than $10 billion in the state in 2019, or about $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. That’s an estimated tax benefit of $1,300 per household. It also supported an estimated 141,500 jobs.
“I don’t yet know what 2020 is going to look like, but it’s going to be significantly reduced from that number. I know that,” he said.
Adent said things are looking better than earlier on in the pandemic. More people in our neighboring states and Utah’s own residents are venturing out of their homes more to enjoy state and national parks.
“The only thing that’s hard is just the unknown,” Adent said. “I know for a lot of properties where the typical booking window is 100 days, that booking window has been reduced, in some instances, down to 10 days as people are just making last-minute travel decisions.”
And it seems the closer you get to the city, where conventions and other events have been nonexistent, the more the tourism industry struggles. But Adent said the government has stepped up in a big way.
“If it wasn’t for the grant programs that existed, I don’t know that my company would have been able to survive through COVID,” he said.
Adent is urging business who haven’t already, to take advantage of programs like the state’s new Shop in Utah program, which gives businesses an incentive to offer a discount and for customers to leave their homes and explore the state.
“For all those people who didn’t get to do their summer and spring vacations, we’re hopeful that they’ll be able to get out and visit us at the end part of the year,” he said.
Adent said the Utah Office of Tourism plans to kick off their campaign in September.
“If you want to be able to have an experience with your family but still be socially responsible and be able to keep your distance, there’s no place better in the world than Utah.”