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Data shows National Parks losing almost $26 million per day during pandemic

Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 19, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Many tourists spent their summer break in Utah’s National Parks — but instead of international visitors, the parks saw more local visitors.

Anna Loughridge a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Tourism said this is the first year they’re focusing their vacation advertisements for Utah to people like you and me--locals they hope will take advantage of what’s in their backyard.

For Utah’s 10 billion dollar tourism industry, COVID19 has had devastating impacts.

“In March and April when our industry was decimated, we estimated we were losing almost $26 million a day in visitor spending,” said Loughridge.

Summer is considered a peak season for visiting Utah National Parks, but this year the numbers are down 35 to 50 percent from what they were last year.

In May of 2019, Arches National Park saw more than 217,000 visitors.

This year, there were nearly 14,000.

In June, numbers rose significantly to more than 163,000 visitors in comparison to last year, where there were more than 225,000.

Zion National Park reports show similar trends.

In May of last year, there were more than 531,000 visitors and this year they saw a 66 percent drop to about 189,000 visitors.

In June, the gap between 2019 and 2020 visitors narrows: more than 596,000 visitors last year with a 36% drop to more than 379,000 visitors this year.

“Economists project that returning to our 2019, $10 billion revenues could take well into 2022,” said Loughridge.

The Utah Department of Tourism received 12 million dollars from the CARES Act, and Loughridge said they have already granted $5 million to specific destinations.

Relief, Loughridge hopes will bring Utah’s tourism revenue back on track.

“For the foreseeable future, travel has been defined as regional road trips,” said Loughridge.

A spokeswoman with the National Park Service said the numbers reported on their website are preliminary. A true reflection of visitors will be more accurate at the end of 2020.