Summit County gives out $2.4 million in tourism-promotion grants
Nearly half goes to three organizations, Sundance gets half of its request
Summit County last week doled out $2.4 million in grants aiming to promote tourism, with more than $1 million of the funds going to three organizations: the Park City Area Restaurant Association, the Park City Chamber/Bureau and Delta Airlines.
The funds are generated through a 1% sales tax levied on restaurant diners, which is then distributed to organizations that say their projects will bring more visitors to the area. A committee evaluated 51 applications that collectively sought more than $5.2 million, recommending funding levels to the County Council.
Committee members told the council that they decided not to fund capital projects like new infrastructure this year, citing lower tax revenues brought on by the pandemic.
“I think it really goes down to who’s going to get the people back here so we can get more funds in this account,” said committee member Teri Whitney. “That’s really what we’ve been driven with.”
The restaurant association received $365,400 for marketing campaigns; the Chamber/Bureau received $300,000 for spring, summer and fall marketing campaigns; and Delta Airlines received $400,000 for its Fly Free promotion.
Delta’s promotion attempts to encourage visitors to fly to Salt Lake City in slower winter months by offering flight vouchers in online advertisements, according to a previous county explanation.
“That one has absolutely the best (return on investment) of any of the grants,” Whitney said. “I think they did $6 million in lodging revenue last year.”
A report accompanying the presentation said the program resulted in more than $16 million in lodging revenue over the previous five years. The committee has granted the program roughly $1.7 million in the same timeframe.
The combined grant applications requested more than double the amount of money available, leading the committee to fund many requests only partially, and to fund others not at all.
The largest request was from Park City Municipal Recreation for $750,000 to replace the turf on fields at Quinn’s Junction. The committee did not contribute any funding to that request, citing its choice not to fund capital expenses this year.
The same reasoning was applied to the committee’s rejection of a $90,000 application from Francis to construct a community bike park that would connect to a larger trail system.
Councilor Chris Robinson questioned the committee about the relative funding levels allocated to the East Side compared to the Park City area.
“I hate to see in some instances requests from the small municipalities on the East Side get turned down,” Robinson said. “… I just hope that somewhere in the calculus here that eastern Summit County can ride on the coattails of its wealthy neighbor to the west that generates all of this.”
East Side organizations submit relatively few applications and receive relatively little funding. According to the committee’s report, East Side communities were granted $58,000 out of $240,000 requested.
The committee recommended $5,000 for a car show in Oakley, as well as $30,000 for the Oakley Rodeo — half what was requested. The committee also recommended funding $20,000 out of a $75,000 request for a Coalville city celebration and $3,000 out of a $10,000 request to support the Peoa Stampede. The documents do not include applications from Henefer or Kamas.
Whitney said the committee was aware of the council’s desire to fund projects on the East Side, and reiterated the committee’s charge to replenish its funds by seeking a return on its investment through increased tourist dollars flowing through the county.
Other notable committee recommendations include:
- $127,000 to U.S. Ski and Snowboard for the television broadcast of the 2022 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at Deer Valley
- $125,000 to the Sundance Institute to market the Sundance Film Festival, half the requested amount
- 125,000 to the Egyptian Theatre for marketing
- $125,000 to the Park City Lodging Association for biking promotional videos
- $110,000 to the Historic Park City Alliance for its snow globe installation on Main Street
- $100,000 to USA Nordic Sport for the 2021 Park City FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup and Women’s Ski Jumping Continental Cup
- $50,000 to promote Park City Film’s Twilight Drive-in movies
- $10,000 to the Youth Sports Alliance to host a homecoming parade and community celebration on Main Street to welcome home Olympians and Paralympians from the 2022 Beijing Games and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Olympics
In addition to rejecting the Quinn’s Junction and Francis projects on the grounds that the committee would not fund capital projects this year, the committee also rejected the following:
- A $272,034 request from Park City to purchase new winter grooming equipment for Round Valley
- A $250,000 request from the Snyderville Basin Recreation District for its Trailside Park expansion
- A $100,000 request from the Park City Film to replace the seats at the Jim Santy auditorium
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Summit County’s sales taxes are beating 2019 levels, with an estimated additional $1.2 million in revenue. Councilors debated using the money to hire more employees.