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COVID-19 pandemic takes millions from Utah tourism industry

Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 20:12:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah businesses that rely on tourism are losing tens of millions of dollars a day because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is devastating for the tourism economy,” State of Utah Tourism director Vicki Varela said.

Tourism brings in $9.7 billion a year which breaks down to roughly $26 million a day into Utah’s economy. Right now, Varela believes that’s down 90 to 99 percent since February.

“We know that we have many businesses that don’t know if they’ll survive this,” Varela said.

About 30 percent of Salt Lake businesses don’t know if they’ll make it out on the other end of the pandemic, according to a poll by Visit Salt Lake.

“They’re being crushed right now. We are doing anything and everything possible to assist them in their efforts to maintain some semblance of normalcy,” Visit Salt Lake communication director Shawn Stinson said.

Stinson says 29 conventions, meetings and events have pulled out of the state’s capital, including the Tour of Utah in August.

"Our figures have that at 126,00 attendees and an economic impact of $110 million that our community will lose if these meetings, events, conventions fully cancel,” Stinson said.

A handful have rescheduled, but it’s unclear when the health orders will be lifted and tourism can continue in Utah. Right now though, Varela says there’s another priority.

“We want people to stay home and be safe because these beautiful places they will all be here for us in the future,” Varela said.

The state has suspended a Utah Tourism ad campaign to draw people to the state. They are hopeful though, as about nine conventions have booked in the state when this is all over.