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Light and shadow on the colorful sandstone formations of Yant Flat, Utah.
Light and shadow on the colorful sandstone formations of southwestern Utah's Yant Flat. Photo: Angie Payne
COVID-19 Industry Update

Tourism partners:

These are difficult and surreal days for our industry and for the world. We want you to know that we are doing all we can at the Utah Office of Tourism to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Recognizing that the situation is rapidly evolving, here are key updates and initiatives for March 16, 2020:

  • Dramatic reduction in air travel, public gatherings and restaurant service. No domestic air travel restrictions have been set, but airlines are cutting back flights in response to reduced demand. With restrictions on European inbound travel through mid-April and restrictions on Chinese travel still in place, airport arrivals are down dramatically. The Center for Disease Control has called on America to limit gatherings to 50 people or fewer for the next eight weeks, and President Trump has recommended gatherings of no more than 10 people. The sports world went from games without fans to no games at all after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Conventions and events are being postponed indefinitely. Salt Lake County and Summit County restaurants are providing only curb-side service and broader restaurant and other restrictions appear imminent.

  • State and national parks. One great thing about being in Utah, however, is the rejuvenating power of the great outdoors. Many Utahns and other vacationers are reorganizing their Disney World plans to spend time in our state and national parks and other destinations. Though some services are being suspended or altered, we are working closely with the parks on new best practices regarding social distancing and responsible travel. 

  • Marketing modifications. Continued reductions in travel and events compel us to modify our actions. To maximize the value of our marketing dollars, we have put a pause on broadcast, out-of-home advertising and programmatic digital marketing. We will continue to market with online travel agencies and search engines (PPC), venues where people are actively planning travel. Watch for more engagement on social media that reminds people what they love about Utah. 

  • Industry assistance. We know many of you are in very difficult circumstances. In addition to good health, we need to get back to good economic health. We will review our co-op measures in light of COVID-19. We are working to update our COVID-19 toolkit with the latest resources and messages. And see the following list of state and federal programs that have been established or in process. 

Most of all, we want you to be safe. And we want you to have heart.

Times like this are more important than ever for us to show generosity in whatever ways we can, whether it’s sharing hand sanitizer or recommending a favorite hike.

Have you experienced a Utah Life Elevated moment through the COVID-19 crisis? Someone going out of their way to provide clarity or calm? Please share silver linings you have experienced or heard about. UOT PR manager Anna Loughridge is collecting your stories (please email her at aloughridge@utah.gov) and we will follow with ideas and practices for generating a unified social voice throughout Utah.

Vicki Varela
Managing Director
Utah Office of Tourism
801-538-3395 | vvarela@utah.gov 
Industry Assistance Highlights

Here are some of the industry assistance programs available or in process: 

  • Small Business Assistance (SBA) Coronavirus Loans. Gov. Herbert has established Utah as a beneficiary of this program by providing the necessary examples of financial emergencies our businesses are experiencing.   

    • A link should be available from the SBA within the next few days for businesses to apply. Once an application is complete, it will take about 10 to 15 days for a loan to be available. Information on the application link will be provided by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development as soon as it is available from the SBA.  

    • Loans up to $2 million will be available to small businesses and private non-profit organizations with interest rates set at 3.75% and 2.75% respectively. 

    • Loans may be repaid for up to 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis based on the borrower’s ability to repay.  

    • Loans may be used to cover business operating expenses, including payroll.

  • Employment. Anyone whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic should contact the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This includes:

    • If employers temporarily ceased operations due to COVID-19 with the expectation the individual will return to work. 

    • If employees are quarantined, but not showing symptoms, and will return to work 

    • If employees are able and available (not showing any symptoms of COVID-19), but are unable to go to work because their place of employment has been quarantined.

  • Child care and food assistance. The Utah Department of Workforce Services has COVID-19 specific information regarding child care and food assistance. 

  • Other initiatives in process:

    • Governor Herbert has established an Economic Response Task Force through the Governor’s Economic Council. Tourism interests will be a key part of the discussion. 

    • With support from the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Congress is considering several actions to provide COVID-19 relief, including paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, food security, medical testing and treatment and more for our industry.

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