Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tourism in Utah still suffers from economic downturn

The state of Utah is a stunning exhibition of vast mountain ranges, lush forests, deep canyons and the most spectacular rock formations found on our planet. Its five national parks, numerous resort towns and countless cultural attractions give it a unique place in American tourism. But is Utah’s renowned recreation and otherworldly beauty enough to keep tourism strong during the recession? Apparently not.

I was speaking about the economy with a nice man yesterday in the mountain town of Heber, just down the road from trendy Park City (and about 30 miles from Provo). He owns the Invited Inn, a bed and breakfast in the quiet Swiss village of Midway, Utah—a lovely alternative to Park City’s winter hustle and bustle, soon to swell for the ski season. But all is not well in his fairytale town. Tourism has been heavily hit by the economic downturn, and few people come to stay at his once-packed inn. He talked about how it’s now just him and his wife (both of whom are in their 60s or 70s from what I can guess) that manage the inn. They would love to hire some outside help to assist in the cooking and cleaning and landscaping, but they can’t afford any additional staff unless tourism picks up.

Other hotels and resorts in Midway are suffering too, he admits. Larger establishments are laying off everyone from cleaning staff to administration. So he’s grateful his little bed and breakfast has less upkeep and he and his wife are still able to get by for now. He thought the summer would bring more guests, but business was slow. He hopes the upcoming ski season will help his business.

And so the recession continues here. Like always, folks are optimistic things will eventually improve. And when tourists finally do return to Utah, our tremedous scenery will be waiting.

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