Tourists, the golden tickets, celebrated | ParkRecord.com

Tourists, the golden tickets, celebrated

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

If not for tourists, City Hall says, thousands of people who work in Summit County could be out of jobs, government coffers would suffer and the Park City area would not be as fun.

So tourists should be celebrated, the Park City Council has determined.

The elected officials recently, in a bow to the critical tourism industry, declared May 10-18 ‘National Tourism Week’ to coincide with a national celebration of the week.

There was little discussion about the City Council proclamation, and there has not been much talk around Park City about the upcoming week. The May scheduling of National Tourism Week is at the start of the traditional time for summer vacations in America, but the month, known locally as ‘mud season,’ is usually one of the slowest of the year in Park City for vacationers and day-tripping visitors.

Still, the Park City Chamber/Bureau is preparing to celebrate National Tourism Week. Bill Malone, who heads the Chamber/Bureau, says the group plans lunchtime cookouts May 15 and May 16 at the Visitor Center outside the Utah Olympic Park.

"Every week’s Tourism Week," Malone says about the industry’s importance in Park City.

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According to Malone, the Chamber/Bureau counted 3.3 million visitor-nights in the Park City area in 2007. A visitor-night is a measure used by tourism officials to count the number of tourists. One visitor-night equals one person spending one night in a hotel or rental property.

Park City’s wintertime tourism is especially important, with the area’s three mountain resorts drawing an international clientele for skiing and snowboarding.

Business booms in hotels, other lodging properties, restaurants and nightclubs, and other industries rely heavily on ski-season business. The Sundance Film Festival each January also is a profitable time for several segments of the local economy.

But tourism officials have long tried to boost summertime business, and they say summers are busier than before. Festivals and sports tournaments are among the big draws during the summer.

"It’s a big piece of our economy, and it’s a big piece of our history" since the 1960s, Malone says, referring to the decade when Park City’s first modern-era ski resort opened and adding that lots of the city’s redevelopment since then is based on the success of tourism.

Meanwhile, he says, tourism boosts civic pride and allows Parkites to meet visitors from abroad. That, according to Malone, "breaks down prejudices."

"In some ways, it’s kind of its own methodology of diplomacy," he says.

The City Council, in the Tourism Week proclamation, provides statistics and comments about the industry that show its influence in Park City.

Some of the numbers include:

( Tourism creates more than 7,117 jobs, and it provides 43 percent of all the jobs in Summit County.

( Tourists and travelers in Summit County spend more than $460 million each year. The spending generates almost $14 million in sales, hotel and restaurant taxes.

For more information about National Tourism Week, call the Chamber/Bureau at 649-6100 or visit the Travel Industry Association Web site, http://www.tia.org.

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