Wednesday, June 1, 2016 1:00 AM
By Dan Johnson, Smart Meetings — Traditionally regarded as a quiet, conservative destination, Salt Lake City is undergoing an exciting transformation that is broadening its identity and appealing to much greater variety of travelers and potential residents.
This phenomenon, which is sparked in part by Visit Salt Lake (the convention and visitors bureau), is reflected in many recent surveys, including two released during this month by WalletHub. The most recent survey, released this week, ranked SLC as the second-best summer destination in the United States, trailing only the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metropolitan area. WalletHub ranked 80 metro areas on a set of 30 key metrics, focusing on wallet-friendly and Instagram-worthy offerings, such as cost of the cheapest flight, number of attractions and diversity of activities.
In another survey by WalletHub, Salt Lake City was ranked as the top U.S. city to start a career. WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 largest U.S. cities, using 17 key metrics to determine the relative strength of their job markets as well as the attractiveness of their social scenes and other factors important to job-market entrants.
Last month, SLC was one of 10 U.S. cities noted by TripAdvisor as being among the “greenest” in the United States. The story noted the city’s commitment to climate change, conservation and improved air quality and that in recent years, it has doubled the amount of bike lanes offered and opened an extremely popular bike-share program downtown.
Also last month, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) ranked second in passenger satisfaction, trailing only Tampa International Airport, in Phoenix Marketing International’s survey of the 250 busiest airports in the United States.
Meeting planners and others are taking note of these impressive rankings, stemming from the rapid changes occurring in Salt Lake City. While it’s still carving out its new identity, an online story from CheapOair.com would have been unforeseeable just a few years ago. The story, “Why Salt Lake City Could Very Well Be the Next San Francisco,” describes SLC’s adventurous cuisine, creative cocktails, artisanal coffee scene and colorful counterculture.