A state report says tourism spending in Utah declined by 10 percent in 2009 and visitor numbers fell by nearly one million as the recession hit the state’s ski and lodging industries hard.Hotel occupancy rates reached their lowest level in at least six years.Julie Hollist, Executive Director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, says tourism spending is also down locally but only by about 2.9 percent. Hollist says the lodging industry was hurt when two new hotels came in, Holiday Inn Express and Springhill Suites by Marriott, adding 190 rooms.”I think we have about 1,066 rooms here in Cache Valley and there are definitely times, Top of Utah Marathon, LOTOJA, the MS 150, there are times when those are all full,” Hollist says. Hollist says that the increased occupancy is good for those events, but there are a lot of times out of the year that cause concern about all the empty rooms. “It’s times like the winter months coming up right now that are going to be a little bit nerve-wracking and nail-biting, I think, for all of our hotel owners.”Hollist says we need more snow to help increase visits to Hardware Ranch and get more people out skiing and snowmobiling.
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