The Park Record editorial, February 4-7, 2012
February 3, 2012
At the risk of preaching to the choir, The Park Record must add its voice in support of maintaining the state’s current level of funding for tourism.
The numbers are clear, according to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. (The legislators can’t argue with the government’s own statistics, right?) In 2011 tourism-related business activity added over $800 million in tax revenues to local and state treasuries.
And that doesn’t take into account how many jobs the tourism industry, which has grown into a $6.5 billion behemoth, has created.
In Summit County the impact is even greater. City and county officials estimate that about one-third of the local workforce is connected to the tourism industry. If that army of small-business owners, ski-area executives, hoteliers, restaurateurs and service workers marched on Capitol Hill wearing matching uniforms chanting, "My paycheck depends on tourism," they would be more than 6,000 strong.
With the exception of a slight stall in 2008, the tourism industry and its economic benefits have steadily grown throughout the state. And, if it weren’t for the investments made in diversifying the area’s economic mainstays like mining and manufacturing to include newer ones like tourism and recreation, the effects of the recession would likely have been much more severe.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that dollars spent promoting tourism pay consistently generous dividends, some in the Legislature are proposing to trim that funding again this year. We wholeheartedly agree with those who traveled to Capitol Hill this week in opposing that move.
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Summit County and Park City are not averse to reinvesting some of their own hard-earned funds to generate still more business, but with the state’s help we can leverage those dollars ever further. In the last few years, especially, Park City has seen a significant increase in summer as well as winter tourism that has contributed greatly to local and state coffers.
And while we are on a roll, tourism is an environmentally-friendly industry that is labor intensive, is a proven economic boost and even provides some fun amenities for residents. It would be foolhardy to reduce funding for such a clearly successful enterprise.
If you agree, contact your legislators: Sen. Kevin VanTassell, Sen. Allen Christensen, Rep. Mel Brown and Rep. Joel Briscoe. Links to their emails and all of the legislators can be found at: http://le.utah.gov/