LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake City Int’l Airport Returns To Pre-Pandemic Levels As Tourism Booms

Jul 6, 2021, 7:19 PM | Updated: 7:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Even without the typical number of international and business visitors, the Salt Lake City International Airport reports that air travel is back to pre-pandemic levels.

“Salt Lake is definitely back. The airport is back. Flying is back,” said Bill Wyatt, the airport’s executive director.

Wyatt said he expects some record-breaking days at the airport this summer, despite the reduced level of international travel.

“We’re pretty much back to where we were pre-pandemic in Salt Lake,” Wyatt said. “We’re at 105% of where we were in 2019, and that puts Salt Lake City International at the top of the list.”

He said Utah is a top destination because people feel safe in the outdoors. There was a strong demand for air travel during both the summer and winter tourism seasons.

Zions Bank senior economist Robert Spendlove joined Wyatt at the airport for a press conference Tuesday morning and said the return of the travel industry is one of the final pieces needed for the state’s economy to fully recover from the pandemic.

“The busy Fourth of July travel weekend is a great sign that our travel and tourism industry is making a strong comeback,” Spendlove said. “A boost in summer travel will have far reaching impacts on the economy, bringing back jobs and stimulating additional growth.”

Spendlove said while it will take time for business travel to fully bounce back, several business conferences are booked in Utah for later this year and many relocated from other cities.

“The business side of tourism continues to recover, although much more slowly than the leisure side of travel,” Spendlove said.

In April, hotel occupancy rates in Utah returned to 2019 levels, according to a research brief “Back to Baseline: Utah’s Tourism Economy Rebounds Post-Pandemic” by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“One year since the arrival of COVID in the U.S. and Utah’s tourism economy is back on track,” the June report said. “Leisure and hospitality employment in southern Utah rebounded ‘back to baseline’ last fall, while the rest of the state began catching up this spring.”

This March, 22 of Utah’s 29 counties collected more transient room tax revenue than in the same month in 2019, according to the report. The counties still below their 2019 hotel tax revenues were Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, Uintah, Utah, Wasatch and Weber.

The report said that all signs indicate that urban travel will make “huge strides towards recovery” during the second half of this year.

“Meanwhile, increased vaccine distribution, swollen savings accounts, and widespread remote employment will continue to bolster travel during the second half of this year, bringing the entire state back to — and even well above — 2019 baseline by 2022,” the research brief said.

The Utah Office of Tourism said the state’s world-renowned outdoor destinations continued to attract visitors during the pandemic.

“Our Mighty Five national parks have been setting monthly visitation records every month since October 2020,” said Anna Loughridge, the tourism office’s public relations manager.

Loughridge said the travel economy in urban areas will recover more fully as business, convention and event travel resumes.

“There are two different stories here: urban destinations are definitely still working towards recovery but a lot of our rural, gateway communities have already reached those 2019 numbers,” she said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

First responders on the scene of the motorcyclist who fell about 50 feet. (Washington County Sherif...
Michael Houck

Rescue crews save woman stuck in remote area and motorcyclist who fell 50 feet

Washington County officials responded to two different search & rescue operations on Sunday.
20 hours ago
FILE PHOTO...
Michael Houck

Backcountry skier dies after slipping, falling near Lisa Falls

A man is dead after tumbling a "significant distance" while backcountry skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Saturday.
20 hours ago
USU student Max Shulga during Saturday night's game....
Shelby Lofton

Utah State community responds to ‘Russia’ chants directed at Ukrainian player

Some USU students say that the Colorado State University students crossed a line that goes beyond simple trash talk during a game.
20 hours ago
The collapsed awning at the Wing Pointe Apartments (Heber City Police Department)...
Michael Houck

Snow collapses awning at a Heber apartment complex

Six cars were trapped under a collapsed awning after the Sunday afternoon snowfall. 
20 hours ago
Image of the scene where police witnessed a wrong-way driver crash in Salt Lake City (Salt Lake Cit...
Chandler Holt, KSL Newsradio

SLCPD officer witnesses wrong-way drunk driver crash into embankment

A Salt Lake City police officer witnessed the truck crossing the medium several times before losing control and crashing into an embankment Saturday night.
20 hours ago
Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson)...
Mike Anderson

Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor

A Utah State University professor says that Utahns are breathing some of the worst air we've seen in over a decade.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Salt Lake City Int’l Airport Returns To Pre-Pandemic Levels As Tourism Booms