SPRINGDALE, Utah – Southern Utah has the potential to see more Chinese tourists in 2015. That’s the prediction of a recent study by the University of Utah School of Business.
The report, published this week, takes a detailed look at tourism throughout the state. Analysts say more relaxed visa laws will allow Chinese citizens to stay in the United States longer. The prediction is that means they’ll visit more places.
“I think it’s a way for America and China to promote travel and trade,” says study author Jennifer Leaver. “Also, opportunities for the American people and the Chinese people to engage with each other."
Leaver says data shows there was a 56 percent increase in Chinese tourism spending in Utah from 2012 to 2013, and analysts predict that number will only increase from year to year. It’s a trend business owners in Springdale said they’re already starting to see.
“We see quite a few at this point,” says Zion Park Gift and Deli owner Byron Stansfield. “They go to Las Vegas, and then they head this way for a little bit of quiet after Vegas.”
Stanfield said, in addition to large groups coming in, they’re also seeing the season extend. He’s owned the shop for 18 years and says people are coming earlier in the year, and keep coming late into the fall.
“This is the best February I’ve seen ever since we’ve owned the shop,” Stansfield said.
That translates into a growing industry overall. The U of U study showed tourism accounted for $7.5 billion in spending in 2013, and the prediction is it will only continue to rise.