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Holladay Journal

Salt Lake County taxes stay low because of tourists

Jul 07, 2023 12:41PM ● By Aimee Winder Newton

How would you like to have someone help pay your government taxes each year? We actually have people that do… they are called tourists. Because of the $4.62 billion dollars in spending from tourists in Salt Lake County each year, it equates to $1,238 in tax relief for each household within Salt Lake County. (Source: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

Visitors to our state spend their money here, which benefits local businesses like restaurants, hotels, car rental agencies, and retail establishments. These purchases increase our sales tax revenues which helps us keep property tax low. Did you know visitors account for 33 percent of the overall spend in Salt Lake County? Because the visitor’s stay in Utah is temporary, they don’t require the support of other expensive government programs. We see the benefit from the dollars they spend here, but not the burden to our school system, for instance.

When people hear about tourism in Utah, they assume visitors are here to ski in the winter, or visit the National Parks in the summer. Only about 18 percent of ski visitors to Big Cottonwood Canyon are tourists, and 36 percent in Little Cottonwood Canyon. But Utah is significantly impacted by its visitor economy even beyond those destinations including meetings, conventions, and sports tournaments. Travel and tourism represent Utah’s eighth largest industry and supports 48,000 jobs. Salt Lake County’s share is about 46 percent of the state’s $10.1 billion total.

Because of the great economic impact of tourism, Salt Lake County is in the tourism business.

We own the Salt Palace Convention Center and the Mountain America Expo Center. These centers can host hundreds of conventions each year. When you consider the economic impact of a single convention, you can understand their importance of attracting big conventions and how that investment benefits us all.

Each convention that is held in Salt Lake County can bring in millions of dollars in economic impact. It is estimated that a small convention attracting 4,000 visitors will generate $7 million dollars in economic revenue through hotel stays, restaurant sales, shopping, and entertainment venues.

Visitors also pay an extra tax that goes into the Tourism, Recreation, Culture & Convention (TRCC) fund. This fund is used to pay for quality-of-life programs and venues that make Salt Lake County a better place for families to flourish. Some of the recently approved projects from this fund include expanded trail systems, investments in museums and art centers, and improvements to parks and playgrounds.

Tourism dollars and taxes help pay for everyday services that improve our quality of life, help keep property taxes low, and promote a healthy job market for Salt Lake County. So next time you see a tourist here for a convention or to enjoy the beauty of Utah, give them a friendly smile and thank them for visiting.