JORDANELLE STATE PARK, Utah — Utah’s tourism industry is seeing some rebound from an unlikely source after it hit rock bottom during the pandemic.
The state’s tourism industry is bringing in less than half of what it was before COVID-19.
The money that is coming in, roughly $12 million a day is from Utahns spending vacations closer to home, according to state officials.
Jordanelle State Park became a hot spot for families cooling off in triple-digit heat Friday.
The Hancock family lives less than an hour away, yet this is their first time visiting the reservoir.
“It’s been amazing. We had a plan to go to the beach in California and we have a beach here,” said Allison Hancock of West Jordan.
The family doesn’t seem to mind that COVID-19 canceled their plans to San Diego this summer.
“Instead of having to do one big thing and nothing else the rest of the year, we’ve taken the money that we saved up for the big trip and spread it out over a lot of little trips to the state parks around here,” said Spencer Hancock.
Utahns taking similar trips have become an unlikely boost the state’s paralyzed tourism market.
“In COVID times, Utahns are a really important part of bringing the tourism industry back,” said Utah Office of Tourism managing director Nicki Varela.
In a normal year, Varela said her office’s advertising is spotlighted on out-of-state tourists.
Now, the state is spending $12 million on a marketing campaign to entice regional travelers to stay close.
It’s estimated to take at least another year for the tourism industry to recover from the pandemic.
In the meantime, families appear to use the opportunity to explore their own backyards. State parks are quickly filling up on the weekends with many weekdays becoming busy, too.
“This is something that we normally wouldn’t do until this year,” said Spencer Hancock.
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