Tourism increases in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah has set a record for tourists. That’s according to 2012 statistics just released by Utah’s Office of Tourism.

Ski days in Utah are up 6 percent from 2011. The number of visitors to the state is at an all-time high, 23 million, which is about 7-percent more than in 2011. Officials said the money reflects the increase as well. Utah raked in $7.4 billion in 2012, which is up nearly 8 percent from the previous year.

Tourism officials credit a couple factors. The economy has improved, so vacationers are spending more time in several mountain states.

Tourism experts also said years of branding Utah as an outdoor destination has paid off.

"We built up our brand over many years, and we're starting to get a reputation as a bucket list destination," said Vicki Varela, who is the director of the Utah Office of Tourism.

Varela said the increase has helped put people to work. Nearly a third of the workforce in Grand, Garfield and Kane counties works in the tourism industry.

The 2013-2014 ski season also looks promising following record summer tourism in the state.

According to the Denver company DestiMetrics, pre-bookings for September to February are already about 9 percent higher than last year.