Sometimes the people of Utah and its leaders forget how important tourism is to the state’s overall economy. In fact, it is easy to neglect the promotion of tourism because it may seem frivolous and the results are not readily apparent.
In reality, few industries bring more money into the state than tourism. Yet, Utah’s budget for its tourism office is half the western average and a third the national average.
Since the Olympics, the budget to promote Utah as a tourist destination has been dramatically reduced – to less than a million dollars annually. That’s hardly enough to get the word out.
A proposal now before the state legislature could reverse the trend and put Utah back into the travel promotion ball game. Essentially, it would slightly increase Utah’s lodging and restaurant tax rates, which are among the lowest in the Western U.S.
The modest increases could generate as much as $15 million a year for travel promotion. In turn, it’s estimated that could provide an economic stimulus in excess of $1.5 billion, while producing more than $120 million in additional tax revenue. Significantly, most of the new money would come from visitors to Utah, not from local residents themselves.
KSL supports establishment of an ongoing Tourism Economic Stimulus Fund. The fund, as proposed, is timely and would prove beneficial to all Utahns.