St. George sees tourism boost over Presidents Day weekend

Posted at 10:47 PM, Feb 16, 2015

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- Business owners say Presidents Day weekend was one of the busiest they’ve seen. It was a combination of holiday travel, sport tournaments and the St George Parade of Homes.

An estimated 15,000 people vacationed in St George over the weekend, filling restaurants, businesses and hotels. At the Brian Greer development home in Ivins, people shuffled in and out all day.

“Our online sales are up about 30 percent from this time last year,” said Southern Utah Homebuilder’s Association executive officer Mari Smith. “I’ve talked to quite a few of the parade builders and they’re just thrilled with the amount of visitors coming through these homes.”

Those crowds also translate into big business for local shops.

Annie Whitney owns Annie’s Vintage Garden in downtown St. George. On Sunday close to 500 people came through her store.

Whitney said the tournaments, and other events are a big economic push for Southern Utah.

“We meet a lot of new people, a lot of new customers, and we seem to get a lot of really nice feedback,” Whitney said. “St. George is such a great place because there’s so much to do here.”

Of course all those visitors meant delays returning home. Early in the afternoon the Arizona Highway Patrol reported three-mile backups through the Virgin River Gorge.