Simply stated, no other destination has seen the transformational impact of hosting the Winter Olympic Games like Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden, an impact that is year-round in scope, supports a vibrant lifestyle, and one that shows no sign of slowing down.
On the eve of the XXI Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Vancouver February 12-28, tourism professionals from Salt Lake, Park City, and Ogden are attending the Games to continue spreading the message about the impact of the Olympics on Utah as a world class destination for tourism and conventions, and to highlight the tremendous economic impact the tourism industry can reap.
The group's message is simple: each of the three cities has greatly benefited from hosting the Olympics, as shown in these three lasting legacies: growth in Utah's tourism and convention industry; numerous world-class athletes now calling Utah home due to the state's incredible sports infrastructure and, perhaps the most important legacy, the tremendous economic growth and prosperity enjoyed by the three destinations.
1.) The legacy on the tourism and convention industry in Utah equates to growth in Utah visitors (20.4 million visitors in 2008 vs. 17 million in 2000), growth in Utah skier days (4.259 million in 2007-08 vs. 2.984 million in 2001-02) and growth in tourism infrastructure (hotel rooms, resort amenities, convention center expansion, etc.). Utah's tourism industry is now a $7.1 billion industry (2008) as compared to $4.25 billion prior to hosting the Olympics (2000), and is responsible for 113,030 jobs (2008) versus the 100,674 in 2002.
"We have an opportunity every time the Winter Olympics comes around to be reminded of the impact on our community. There is no better stage than the Games themselves to remind the world what they discovered about Salt Lake when we were the host city," said Scott Beck President and CEO of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Our brand as a legitimate world-class convention destination was born out of the Olympic experience, and our brand as a destination for world-class winter recreation was solidified at the same time."
2.) The legacy of Utah as a training ground for homegrown/native and transplanted winter athletes due to unparalleled access to the nation's best facilities/venues, training/coaches, competition and travel accessibility.
"We have watched our hospitality product and its utilization grow significantly since hosting the Games," said Bill Malone, President and CEO of the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau. "The popularity of Park City as a vacation destination has soared with the instant credibility afforded the community by hosting 26 medal events and being deemed ‘The Alpine Heart of 2002.'"
Malone added, "With the community having embraced Alpine, Freestyle and Snowboarding World Cup events over the many years leading up to the Olympics, this has produced a pipeline of young athletes aspiring to become Olympians, many of whom will be competing in the Vancouver Games."
3.) The legacy of economic growth/prosperity translates into exceptional economic development in the state, particularly in the outdoor recreation industry, which has seen multiple outdoor recreation companies relocate or expand operations in Utah, including Rossignol, Descente, Amer Sports, (parent company of Salomon, Atomic, Suunto) and more. Economic development in outdoor recreation has experienced such growth that it is now one of eight economic ‘clusters' being targeted by the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
"The 2002 Winter Olympics helped establish Snowbasin and the Ogden area as a prominent winter destination. That recognition has lead to an influx of visitors and winter sport enthusiasts eager to experience and take advantage of our area's offerings," commented Sara Toliver, President/CEO of the Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Equally important is the impact on our economic development. After discovering Ogden, many outdoor recreation-based businesses have relocated to the area as a result of our easy access to recreation and our quality of life."
Added to these lasting legacies are the "brick and mortar" infrastructure benefits of the 2002 Games (world-class competition and training venues/facilities, more hotel rooms, greater ski resort amenities, a completely revamped freeway system, TRAX light rail throughout the Salt Lake valley, and Frontrunner train along the Wasatch Front connecting Salt Lake and Ogden). The results confirm a substantial return on the investment made to host the Olympics.