Local tourism promotors hope the worst is over

Local tourism promotors hope the worst is over

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Steve Christopher runs the Souvenir Stop on downtown's Main Street. Other than a bump during October's General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he expects his big season is about done.

"Downtown, unless it's right in the hotels and their gift shop, [winter] has not been a big time for us," he said.

He's hoping his next season will be better than this one. "This summer has actually been down quite a bit from last summer," Christopher said.

He didn't want to get into percentages, but he says he's seen a significant drop. Christopher moved his shop out of the ZCMI mall before it was razed for the Downtown Rising project.

"We were just starting to peak in our new location and then the economy hit," he said.

Statistics from the Utah Office of Tourism shows hotel occupancy rates for the second quarter of 2009 are off by 11.75 percent over the same time last year. Passenger numbers at the airport are down slightly, while visits to national parks are higher. Still, that's an improvement over the first quarter of the year.

Utah's Ski industry promoters are hoping for an improvement over their last season. Skier numbers were down 6 percent in 2008-2009. Ski Utah Spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer says this year they're "cautiously optimistic." She says resorts will be prepared to offer big discounts to both out of state and local skiers.

A report by PKF Hospitality Research may have some good news for them. It predicts room occupancy rates in luxury, upscale and mid-scale hotels will begin to rebound. But there's a catch. Researchers also say the idea of deep discounts has taken hold with consumers, and they'll continue to expect a deal.

E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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Marc Giauque


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