News / World

Daggett, Garfield counties rely most on Utah tourism

SALT LAKE CITY — More than half of the jobs — 54 per cent — in Daggett and Garfield counties are provided by private leisure and hospitality companies, most in the state of Utah.

A county-by-county breakdown of tourism's statewide impact was distributed in brochure form at the three-day Utah Tourism Conference, which wrapped up Thursday in Vernal.

Compiled by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, a subdivision of the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business, the figures show that tourism was an $8.4 billion industry in Utah last year. Of that total, $721 million came from out-of-state tourists for lodging, dining, gas, transportation, recreational activities and shopping.

Taxes assessed on that spending contributed $1.23 billion to state and local governments, said study author Jennifer Leaver, who concluded "2016 was another banner year for Utah's travel and tourism economy."

The brochure is based on new final figures for 2016, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2h9Ag2N ).

About 85,000 people had jobs last year that were directly related to tourism, Leaver said, a number that climbs to 144,200 when support positions are factored in. Together, those positions paid $5.6 billion in wages last year.

Leaver's analysis also showed that while the growth rate for tourism-related jobs was comparable to the overall state employment increase, at 3.8 per cent , pay is rising faster in the hospitality sector.

Wages rose 7.4 per cent from 2015 to 2016 in tourism jobs, and 6 per cent in other sectors.

Driving these gains were some sizable increases in the number of visitors to Utah's natural wonders. Visitation to the state's five national parks — Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Zion — rose 21 per cent year-over-year, to 10.1 million.

National monuments had 18 per cent more visitors than in 2015, Leaver added, while visitation to state parks climbed 16 per cent .

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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