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Two hikers in the distance atop two orange sandstone knobs beneath a half moon during the day. Outside Kanab, Utah.
Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch trail in the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area outside of Kanab. Photo: Ted Hesser
Tourism Industry Update

CARES Funds to Boost Tourism, Arts and Small Business

Our industry’s road trip to recovery got a huge boost with a series of sweeping initiatives by the Utah State Legislature.

The Utah Office of Tourism was allocated a total of $23.4 million including $12 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and $11.4 million of Tourism Marketing Performance Fund (TMPF).

In addition, under the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Program, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) was allocated $25 million for a Business Grant Program that will benefit tourism businesses and nonprofits. Funding for the cultural arts and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) round out the initiatives to restore the tourism economy. 

We are grateful for the tourism confidence and commitment shown by Governor Herbert, our colleagues at GOED (i.e. the Mother Ship) and the Legislature.

Key highlights: 

  • The Utah Office of Tourism was allocated $12 million of CARES funding to address the COVID health emergency by marketing visitation to national parks and surrounding areas, addressing transportation issues to and within national parks to facilitate visitor access and addressing other costs to stimulate tourism throughout the state. The CARES funding is not allocated to the Tourism Marketing Performance Fund and does not face the same restrictions. The full $12 million must be spent by Dec. 30.

  • Meanwhile, the Tourism Marketing Performance Fund ongoing budget remains intact, minus a 5 percent budget cut to help balance the state’s budget. This brings the TMPF base to $22.8 million. A one-time budget cut of $11.4 million leaves a TMPF balance of $11.4 million for the budget year beginning July 1. 

  • A $25 million Impacted Business Grant Program (ShopUtah) will infuse cash to small businesses and nonprofits that have experienced COVID related revenue declines. Businesses can secure funding up to the amount of their revenue declines on the condition that 50 percent of the money be used as a financial incentive for individuals or businesses to make purchases. The program will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The grants will be available on Aug. 5. Small businesses and nonprofits are the highest priority, with 75 percent of the applications received through Aug. 31 targeted to small businesses. 

  • The COVID-19 Cultural Assistance Grant Program establishes a tax-exempt grant program administered by the Department of Heritage and Arts in consultation with GOED to provide grants to organizations that provide a cultural, artistic, botanical, recreational or zoological activity that encourages travel and tourism in the state. Appropriation: $9 million

  • The COVID-19 PPE Support Grant Program (SafeUtah) establishes a tax-exempt grant program administered by GOED to provide grants to businesses to improve workplace safety for workers and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic through measures such as PPE purchases, workplace redesigns, signage and technology solutions that allow for distance working. Appropriation: $5 million.

  • The COVID-19 Displaced Worker Grant Program provides training for workers displaced due to COVID-19 by creating a program within GOED’s Utah Works and appropriating money to the Utah System of Higher Education’s Custom Fit program. Also appropriates money to the Department of Workforce Services to create a dashboard to identify unemployment and job opening trends to better match workers with job opportunities. Appropriation: $9 million.

  • The COVID-19 Outreach and Education Program creates a public information campaign to encourage healthy activity during the COVID-19 pandemic such as following health guidelines and not forgoing medical care including preventative care, urgent care and vaccinations. Appropriation: $1 million.

  • Additional appropriations wil provide basic needs assistance for COVID-19 impacts and provide translation services and technology for service providers working to address COVID-19 impacts.


Additional Resources
Utah Leads Together: A Plan for a Health and Economic Recovery Version 4.0 (PDF) — Released June 17, 2020
Utah's color-coded health guidance system
State of Utah Resources for Business
Utah Office of Tourism COVID-19 Industry Toolkit
Responsible travel information at
The state of Utah’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) information hub.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control Travel Health Notices and COVID 2019 Information for Travel 
If you’re worried about whether you may have COVID-19, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.
Copyright © 2020 Utah Office of Tourism, All rights reserved.

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