Despite challenges, Utah’s tourism industry reports record visitation and spending in 2021

Utah’s travel and tourism industry saw record visitation and spending in 2021, according to the latest annual industry report released today by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. The report notes that 2021 visitor spending was up 49.5% from 2020 to a record $10.56 billion.

“Visitor spending returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 and remained strong through the first part of 2022,” says Jennifer Leaver, Senior Tourism Analyst for the Gardner Institute. “However, Utah’s travel and tourism industry continues to face challenges including a service-industry labor shortage, the continued lag in international visitation, and inflationary headwinds.”

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • Spending—Visitors spent a record $10.56 billion in the Utah economy in 2021, a 42.5% increase from 2020.
  • Jobs—Utah’s travel and tourism industry provided 89,600 jobs in Utah in 2021. The industry’s economic activity led to indirect and induced effects, supporting an additional 41,000 jobs. About 5.9% of Utah jobs were supported by visitor spending in 2021, either directly or indirectly.
  • Tax Revenue—$10.56 billion in direct visitor spending and $9.12 billion in additional indirect and induced spending generated an estimated $1.81 billion in total tax revenue.
  • Accommodations—Taxable sales in the accommodations sector totaled $2.62 billion in 2021, a 53.3% year-over increase from 2020 and a 12.3% increase from 2019; in addition, average statewide occupancy rates increased 32.3% and daily room rates were up 23.5%.
  • Visitation—Utah’s national and state parks experienced record visitation in 2021, with year-over increases of 45.0% and 9.8%, respectively; additionally, national park visits were up 5.5% and state parks were up 45.5% from 2019 baseline visitation.

“Our Red Emerald Strategic Plan is more important than ever,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Office of Tourism. “Utahns and out-of-state visitors are passionate about our state’s wonders. We are optimistic that we can continue to create a perpetual visitor economy by encouraging the thoughtful discovery of our treasured places.”

The full report is now available online.