Travel site names Utah top destination of 2016

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SALT LAKE CITY — Tourism is Utah's fastest growing industry and scoring a top listing in Fodor's Travel will certainly attract more attention.

Steady promotions of the state's beauty, adventure and value over the last decade have elevated Utah to a prime destination, according Fodor's Travel. It's the diversity of red rock country and Rocky Mountains sets Utah apart in Fodor's Go List 2016.

"(The list) is like a Bible for travelers," said Vicki Varela, managing director of Tourism, Film and Global Branding of the Utah Office of Tourism.

In its listing, Fodor writes: "Fodor's No. 1 destination for 2016 promises exceptional scenery, unforgettable adventures and something for everyone — hikers, skiers, solo travelers and families."

"Utah defies expectations," Fodor's list said.

Before this iteration of its Go List, the agency had never named a No. 1 before.

"That third-party endorsement from a reputable source is absolute gold," Varela said.

Tourists last year spent $7.8 billion in the state, ringing up $1.07 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the Utah Office of Tourism. The money goes back into schools, roads and other state projects.

Tourism grew 44 percent in the last decade.

Tourists from China are now the second leading group of international travelers to visit Utah, up from 11th in 2012.

Gov. Gary Herbert has challenged industry leaders to add 20 percent tourism growth in the next five years.

"We have beautiful vistas and venues throughout the state," Herbert said. "Our tourism and travel is growing at nearly 8 percent per year. There's no reason that cannot continue to grow and expand even more."

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Jed Boal


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