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Report: Proposed Zion National Park Entrance Remodel Would Boost Utah Economy

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A new report laid out the massive economic impact visitors to Zion National Park had on the southern Utah economy in 2019, as well as big plans that could supercharge that impact over the next 10 years.

The report, released by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute on Tuesday, said planned improvements to the park’s east entrance could create 545 jobs and bring nearly $37 million each year through 2030 in southwestern Utah.

The report said visitation to Zion, the mightiest of Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ national parks, increased 47.5% from 2014 to 2019, which brought an additional 1.7 million visitors.

Zion National Park is a top driver of Utah’s travel and tourism economy,” said Jennifer Leaver, Gardner Institute senior tourism analyst and lead author of the report. “One hundred years after its 1919 designation, Zion ranked as the fourth most-visited of all 62 U.S. national parks.”

The study projected visitation to the park over the next 10 years with considerations of trends in visitation, effects of park crowding and the possible impact of improvements to the eastern portion of the park.

Planned improvements at Zion include a new east visitor center, electric shuttles and new hiking trails and lodging.

One of those four planned lodging projects, the report said, included a 182-room Grand Mountain Lodge in Kane County. The last of the four hotels would open in 2025.

Four residential construction projects are also considered for an area near Zion’s east entrance.

In all, the new construction could bring 550 jobs, nearly $21 million in additional earnings, $37 million in new GDP and $5.3 million in state and local taxes to Kane and Washington counties.

The report said Zion brought in a record $253.6 million in spending from visitors to Kane and Washington counties. Those visitors spent big money — an average of $1,133 per party in 2019, the release said.

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