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Utah tourism officials are excited to have international travelers back

salt lake airport
Renee Bright
International travelers are returning to Utah and tourism officials are looking forward to the added revenue from these visitors.

Tourism revenue in Utah in 2020 was down 30% and the lack of international visitors was a big reason why, according to Vicki Varela, the managing director of Utah’s Office of Tourism.

On Monday, U.S. travel restrictions were lifted for all countries and now fully vaccinated travelers are able to enter the country.

Varela said Utah is excited to have these tourists back for the first time in over a year and a half.

“We're in really changing times where more Utahns got out and explored and had adventures,” she said, “but with the absence of international visitors, it really impacted the tourism economy because international visitors [stay longer and spend more].”

Varela said international visitors make up about 7% of Utah’s overall tourism economy. She said they tend to go off the beaten path by going glamping, visiting Dark Sky communities, traveling on long road trips and generally showing “sort of an explorer mindset.”

Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks closed at the beginning of the pandemic and since then the crowds have returned in record numbers.

Amanda Rowland, spokesperson for Zion National Park, said all travelers are recommended to follow local CDC guidelines. She said they also need to know their physical limits.

“It might have been a while, maybe since they've been on a plane or traveled that far,” Rowland said. “So [people should] just be thinking about how they're feeling the day of the activities they're going to do, maybe take it easy.”

Varela said to help manage congestion in busy areas at peak times, all visitors are encouraged to explore “undiscovered” parts of the state.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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