Sundance Institute Brings $143.3 Million in Economic Activity and $72.5 in Gross State Product to Utah with 2016 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Institute announced that its 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which took place in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah in January, generated an overall economic activity of $143.3 million and gross domestic product of $72.5 million in the State of Utah, according to the independent annual economic and demographic study conducted by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

New this year, the Festival is reporting its overall economic activity in addition to the gross state product it has traditionally shared, to give a more complete view of its impact on the state’s economy.

The Economic Report also found that the 2016 Festival generated $7.9 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 1,440 jobs; and was attended by more than 46,660 people from 42 states and 16 different countries. Over the last five years, the Festival has generated a cumulative gross domestic product of $392.2 million, more than $34.7 million in state and local tax revenue and supported more than 7,360 jobs.

“The Sundance Film Festival has a positive impact on Utah’s diverse economy,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “The festival not only boosts the state’s economy and supports local businesses, but also attracts worldwide media coverage, thousands of visitors, and top-tier industry attention, from which the state benefits year after year.”

“Sundance Institute is proud to call Utah home, and proud to drive tourism to the state each January,” said Sarah Pearce, Managing Director of Sundance Institute. “We greatly appreciate the support we receive — from government partners to local vendors and volunteers — that allows us to continue operating here.”

Building Audiences at Home and Abroad

The Institute helps shine an international spotlight on Utah by attracting top-tier industry attention for its programming and proactively securing diverse media interest from around the world. Between the announcement of the film program in late November 2015 through wrap-up articles in February 2016, the Festival generated more than 48,300 stories in print, online and on television. Publicity value around the Festival has increased significantly over the last few years, totalling an all-time high of $98.9 million this year. Over 1,130 press from 22 countries were accredited to attend and cover the Festival, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dubai, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

The Institute’s social media and website content strategy continues to expand to reach new audiences around the world. From November 23, 2015 to February 28, 2016, the Institute’s website,, had more than 7.9 million page views and 1.2 million unique visitors from 22 countries. Top countries outside the United States included the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia. In addition, the Festival now has nearly 1.8 million fans and followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat and Google+.

Attendance and Overall Economic Activity Strong

Attendance to this year’s Festival is slightly higher, with more than 46,600 attendees. The Festival attracted 31,262 out-of-state visitors and 1,863 international visitors from 17 countries. Of the out-of-state attendees, 24 percent indicated this was their first visit to Utah, 91 percent said they traveled to Utah specifically to attend the Festival and 53 percent indicated they would visit Utah again during the next year – showing that the Festival’s tourism benefits extend throughout the year.

Per-person spending averaged $1,139.64 with an average stay of five days. Lodging continues to be the highest expense for out of state visitors, which generated a total of $24.7 million. Total spending generated $16.1 million in food and beverage, which is an increase of $1.1 million over the previous year. Efforts to mitigate traffic and congestion near theatres reflected a $3.1 million dollar spend in other transportation methods.

Economic Report Methodology

Total visitor spending was derived by applying a weighting scheme that accounted for total attendance, the ratio of residents to nonresident attendees, and the geographical distribution of seats to the survey responses. The Gardner Policy Institute then applied an input-output (I-O) analysis using IMPLAN (IMpact analysis for PLANning) modeling software to the total spending results to assess economic impacts. I-O models capture both business-to-business purchases within a region as well as induced spending generated when households supported by these businesses purchases goods and services within the region. I-O models are static models; they measure impacts only in the year the economic event occurs.

According to the University of Utah, the report is intended to capture the financial impact of the Festival on the State of Utah. However the analysis is limited by the data available, namely a survey of festival attendees and operational expenditures of the Sundance Institute. It does not include spending by official Festival sponsors, by unaffiliated businesses that operated during the Festival, airport taxes for attendees who travel through the Salt Lake International Airport, or secondary spending when visitors return to Utah.