COVID-19 Affects Tourist Season For Southern Utah

Mar 13, 2020

COVID-19 is already affecting Southern Utah's tourism industry.
Credit / National Park Service

Each year, tourists that come into Utah infuse about $9.5 billion into the state’s economy, which provides each household in the state $1,286 of tax relief.  With the increase in restrictions due to COVID-19, this number could be affected in 2020. 

“The most important thing is that we all protect our health. And depending on where we are in the continuum, there are different travel advisories that are in order. Obviously international visitors are much more cautious. Domestic visitors, there still seems to be a lot of interest, particularly in car travel,” said Vicki Varela.

Vicki Varela is the director of tourism in the state of Utah. She says that Utah’s tourism is already seeing the effects of COVID-19 due to travel restrictions.

According to Varela, “our number one group of visitors is Canadians. And so that market is still quite stable. Our number two group of visitors is the Chinese. And so we're seeing significant changes in Chinese visitation. Usually, we see Chinese visitors around the community and particularly in our red rock country of Southern Utah. And that's a prime destination for them. And currently there, you can't find a Chinese visitor anywhere because the flights have been suspended. Travel is restricted. And so we're in a pause. And we don't know how long that pause will be.”

The virus has already started to affect the tourism peak season which runs from May through October. People are already starting to cancel their trips to southern Utah.

“Certainly we're not to the peak season but there's been some impact that particular hotels in southern Utah, they're definitely seeing declines," said Varela.  "And then we have cancellations with people trying to anticipate what will happen in a month or two months. And so cancellations in future reservations are a big part of what we're seeing and trying to measure.”

COVID-19 did not affect tourism to Utah during the ski season.