More Help is Needed, Utah Tourism Industry Tells Sen. Romney

Aug 12, 2020, 6:55 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A group of about 400 Utah tourism representatives joined a video conference with Sen. Mitt Romney to say their hard-hit industry is recovering at a painfully slow pace and that the fall could get worse.

“I begin by expressing my sympathy for what the industry has gone through,” Romney said at the beginning of the virtual meeting.

Romney then gave an update on efforts in Congress to pass another COVID-19 relief bill.

“I’m not 100% sure there’s going to be another relief package from Washington,” Romney said. “I think it’s very likely, but not certain.”

The meeting included owners and employees of hotels, restaurants, outfitters, retailers, outdoor recreation manufacturers and others associated with tourism in Utah.

“We’re the hardest-hit industry in the state,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.

Varela said international travelers — who typically visit Utah’s national parks and surrounding communities in droves — aren’t expected to return anytime soon.

FILE: Bryce Canyon National Park.

“The fall is going to be challenging, frankly,” she said.

Many Utah tourism companies benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, Varela said, but that more help will soon be needed.

“The convention districts — think of downtown Salt Lake, downtown Ogden and so forth — they are the hardest hit of any part of our industry,” she said. “Nobody’s been going to any conventions lately, so those hotels have the lowest occupancy.”

Convention districts have been hit hard by the slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park, Ruby’s Inn is only about 40% full and the rooms that are booked are going for about half the normal rate.

“This is by far been the hardest thing that we’ve ever gone through,” said Ruby’s Inn general manager Lance Syrett. “We usually sell pretty much every room every night from the first of May until mid-October.”

For summer destinations like Ruby’s Inn, the peak season provides a financial cushion for the slower, winter season.

Ruby’s Inn, located near Bryce Canyon National Park.

“Usually you’ve got a barn full of hay and that’s what gets you through to the first of April,” Syrett said. “That’s going to be the next problem. We talked with the senator about that and I feel like he understands our concerns.”

In terms of finalizing a new relief package, Romney said it depends on if citizens put pressure on Congress to come to an agreement. He added that there will focus on helping small businesses.

“What we don’t want to have happen is have a host of small businesses go out of business,” Romney said. “Because if they do, then there’s no job for people to go back to.”

The tourism office said Romney expressed interest in meeting again and that this is the most comprehensive conversation they can recall with a U.S. senator about the needs of their industry.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

1 month ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

2 months ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

3 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

4 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

5 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

More free COVID-19 tests from the government are available for home delivery through the mail

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

More Help is Needed, Utah Tourism Industry Tells Sen. Romney