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Major winter events bring economic rewards to Utah

Published: 01/21/2010
SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of people are making their way to Utah for one of the biggest economy-boosting weekends of the year.

Three major events officially kick off Thursday -- the Sundance Film Festival, the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival and the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

The combination of these three events brings a lot of excitement to areas like downtown Salt Lake City and Park City, but they also bring in millions of dollars to Utah's economy.

"Hotels are sold-out in Salt Lake, so people are going to Ogden, Park City and Utah County and all over this Wasatch Front," says Scott Beck, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Between the Sundance Film Festival, the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival and the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at the Salt Palace, the total economic impact on Utah is somewhere between $26 to $28 million.

Whether you're in downtown Salt Lake City or in Park City this weekend, you can expect it to be a little crowded.

"This weekend we're expecting somewhere over 30,000 people are going to be in town," says Beck.

At the Salt Palace, where the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is being held, more than 16,000 manufacturers, retailers and suppliers have been pouring in for opening day. By the time it's all over, those visitors will have generated around $16 million for the state.

"It's money from the outside into the economy," says Beck. "The good thing about it is they spend their money, then they go home. It's really a clean industry and a clean economic impact."

But the impact goes beyond one week of booked hotels, packed ski resorts and restaurants. Twenty-eight percent of attendees at the outdoor retailer show say they'll come back as tourists.

Companies have also fallen in love with Utah while they're here, and decided to stay. Rossignol, one of the leading ski companies in the world, relocated to Park City four years ago.

"We are very happy to be in Park City because of the weather, because of the location and also because we are so close to this [outdoor retailer] show." says Robert Lazzaroni, Nordic division manager for Rossignol Ski Company.

Salomon USA was also taken by Utah. It relocated to Ogden in 2007.

"Being so close to the Wasatch where you can walk out your door, mountain bike, ski and hike, it's really given us more access to the terrain and the environment that we need as a company to both be in the mindset of the products we sell, and to really live the products and the lifestyle that drove us into this industry," says Mike Aicher, Alpine product manager for Saloman USA.

Active outdoor recreation contributes $5.8 billion to Utah's economy each year. It also supports 65,000 jobs.

The outdoor variety in Utah is one reason the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is so successful, and another reason festivals keep coming back.

"We've got world-class skiing in our backyard for this winter show," says Leanne Milliken, marketing manager for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. "In the summer there are climbing opportunities and places to get out on the water, so I think it's really a great space to be able to enjoy what you're doing in the show floor outside, and really speak to the industry we support."

When you combine all the events happening this weekend, it leaves behind a big economic footprint on the state.

Because of all the visitors these events bring in, the rest of the country gets a look at what Utah has to offer.