LAYTON – There’s no Yellowstone National Park or Grand Canyon in Davis County.
But thousands of tourists still visit the county every year, and they make a substantial contribution to the economy.
Nearly 10,000 people work in jobs that are considered part of the tourism/hospitality industry.
“The Governor’s Office of Tourism said $536 million is spent by travelers in Davis County,” said Barbara Riddle, CEO of the Davis Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
That puts the county in good stead, behind such tourism meccas as Salt Lake County and its Temple Square and ski resorts, or Summit County, home to Park City.
Its 9,688 tourism-related jobs also places the county in fourth place. As a segment of the economy, tourism places fifth in the state, Riddle said.
Tourism-related sales tax revenue is up 7 percent statewide, as well as on the increase in the county, said Nan Anderson, director of the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition, the statewide tourism industry trade organization.
Those taxes come from restaurants, hotels, and also reflect sales tax revenues from such venues as Cherry Hills Resort and Lagoon, as well as ski lift tickets.
“We like to look at it as a slow and steady recovery,” she said. “We’re always cautiously optimistic about tourism.”
Even as the world has evolved in the last 50 years, so has how people take vacations, or act as tourists, Anderson said.
“The traditional way we grew up with taking the two-week family vacation in the summer only Р that approach has totally changed,” she said.
“We have a lot more people taking a different approach to their vacations. For example, because of our proximity to California, you may have folks coming here for a quick visit to our national parks,” Anderson said.
More people are also “tacking on” an extra day or two to sight see after a convention, for example.
Bountiful’s Neil Wilkinson, president of Temple Square Hospitality, said its group tour program has seen “significant increases” since 2008.
And an individual Connect pass for use at the Lion House Pantry Restaurant has grown more than 100 percent, 2011 vs. 2010, he said.
“Even in this economy, our business has increased slowly and steadily,” Wilkinson said.
County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings has consistently reported increases in the hotel room, restaurant and car rental tax revenues.
“We agree with the upward trend and are projecting that in our revenues,” he said.
In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, $890 million was generated in state and local tax revenue, statewide, an increase of 5.8 percent, Anderson said.
The transient room tax grew by nearly 30 percent in revenues, while restaurant tax grew almost 6 percent.
There were more than 124,000 tourism-related jobs across the state in 2011, material she provided indicated.