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Red Acre Farm | Photo: Austen Diamond

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From the Managing Director

After months of research, we are pleased to share the final report of a resident sentiment survey measuring Utahns' perceptions of tourism and its perceived impacts on communities and the state overall. Measuring community attitudes aligns with the Red Emerald Strategic Plan to enable community-led visitor readiness and to better understand residents' attitudes about tourism in Utah.

Our findings indicate that a majority of residents view tourism favorably and recognize its economic benefits to the state. Residents in gateway communities however, have mixed perceptions of tourism, due to visitation pressures. Residents overwhelmingly value responsible travel messaging. This affirms the importance of our continued investment in Forever Mighty.

This research will inform various statewide initiatives, including marketing, public relations, destination development, community and partner relations efforts. Our plan is to measure resident sentiment over time to do right by community needs and interests.  

Many thanks to Denise Jordan, UOT's Marketing Analytics and Research Manager and the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute for their hard work on this benchmark resident sentiment survey. 

Vicki Varela
Managing Director
Utah Office of Tourism

Statewide Resident Sentiment Survey Report

The statewide resident sentiment survey showed that overall, Utah residents feel positively about tourism in the state. This positive sentiment is demonstrated by the answers to several key questions. For example: 

76% of those surveyed believe that tourism is either important or very important to Utah’s economy. 

59% of Utah residents feel that the positive effects of tourism outweigh the negative.

86% of state resident survey respondents either agree or strongly agree that the UOT should educate visitors about responsible visitation, echoing the aims of the Forever Mighty Initiative.
When asked about tourism's impact on several topics, responses were also mostly positive. Three quarters of residents said the impact on Utah's overall reputation is positive, 66% said the impact on job opportunities was positive. Additional positive sentiment centered around the opportunity to meet and better understand people from different backgrounds. Tourism's impacts on accessing recreational opportunities, while still positive, also saw a higher negative sentiment begin to surface. Finally, the majority of residents felt tourism's impacts on housing affordability were negative, at 62%. 

Local Community Resident Sentiment Survey Report

The mixed perception of tourism’s impacts are even more pronounced in local survey results, which include 14 areas around the state, many heavily impacted by visitation. Residents in places such as Moab, Springdale, Park City and Wayne/Garfield, Kane and Iron counties are aware of the positive economic impact of tourism in their community, with over half of respondents in these areas saying that tourism is “very important” to their local economies. 

However, even among communities in the state that experience high visitation, respondents varied greatly when rating whether they feel tourism has improved or declined the overall quality of life in their communities. For example, 59% of Moab residents felt that tourism has either declined or significantly declined the overall quality of life in their community, while in Iron County, 54% of respondents felt that tourism had either improved or significantly improved life in their community. 

A Guide to the Resident Sentiment Survey Reports

The Resident Sentiment Survey research included a statewide survey as well as a local survey conducted in 14 specific Utah communities. The condensed fact sheet for overall statewide and local survey results can be found here.

The statewide survey encompassed 406 respondents from around the state. Following the statewide survey results, Appendix A begins on page 8 of the report with the survey questionnaire, followed by Appendix B which includes the verbatim responses to the free response questions in the survey. The statewide survey results and report can be found here

The local area survey involved approximately 1240 respondents from 14 Utah communities, many of which are highly affected by visitation. The local area results and report can be found here. The Appendix begins on page 36 and includes demographic profiles by area in Appendix A, the original questionnaire in Appendix B on page 38 and verbatim answers to free response questions by area in Appendix B on page 44 of the report.

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