SALT LAKE CITY – Outdoor Retailers and the Outdoor Industry Association announced they will continue to hold winter and summer market trade shows in Salt Lake City through 2016.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for Utah. The state’s biggest convention is extending its contract with Salt Lake County. Outdoor Retailer made the announcement just 24 hours before it kicks off the winter market at the Salt Palace Wednesday.
“I think people really love Salt Lake City; they love Utah, the natural resources and the beauty,”says Kenji Haroutunian, the VP of Nielsen Expositions and Outdoor Retailer.
The bi-annual convention is extending its stay for two years, which means they will in Utah through 2016.
“I’m convinced that Utah is the perfect fit for this convention and we’re excited that they’ve agreed,” says Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
The OR’s winter market alone attracts 20,000 visitors to the state. They spend an estimated $18.5 million while they’re here, according to the County.
The winter and summer conventions combined bring in $40 million annually. By 2016, the State anticipates a $160 million economic boost.
“I think it’s a great place to have this show; it’s a wonderful city. It’s very welcoming so far and I can’t think of a better place to have an outdoor show than right here in the mountains,” says Melissa Nypaver who is visiting from North Carolina.
However the mountainous state does have its challenges.
“We have housing blocks that we book now in Sandy and even in Draper; we have housing blocks north of the city in Salt Lake and up in Park City so we’re spreading out very far,” says Haroutunian.
It’s partly why OR only signed a short-term contract with the County. There just simply aren’t enough hotels in Downtown. ”
If you don’t do it regularly it can be a real trip. You have to book things early; you have to know what’s going on,” says Mark Reed who is visiting from Seattle.
Another challenge for Utah was fitting in everyone during the Summer OR. The Salt Palace, which has been expanded twice in the last 10 years, isn’t big enough.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development plans to provide a 150,000-square-foot tent which will give retailers the room they need. That’s the short-term solution.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says a long-term solution may involve getting the County to pair up with the private sector to attract more hotels to downtown.
OR Show gauges participants’ desire to stay in Salt Lake