ST. GEORGE — This week’s St. George Area Chamber of Commerce Training Series will highlight how sports tourism and outdoor recreation is fueling Washington County’s economy.
Washington County Director of Tourism Kevin Lewis will be the featured speaker at the luncheon, which starts Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in St. George at the Hilton Garden Inn.
With the exponential growth of tourism in Southern Utah, Washington County Commissioners recently restructured tourism operations and announced the hiring of Lewis as the new director of tourism.
According to a newsletter issued by the chamber, throughout his career, Lewis has demonstrated success in a vast range of marketing, tourism and event positions – most recently as the direct of sports and outdoor recreation for Washington County.
Lewis is the recipient of multiple awards for creative advertising and public relations work, including many of the television and multimedia assets for the Tourism Office. He played the lead role in bringing events like the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship to the area.
Tourism is one of the major contributors to the economy in Washington County. In addition to millions in direct economic impact from visitors, the tax revenue generated by visitors helps reduce the tax burden of local residents substantially.
According to data from the Utah Tax Commission, Washington County receives $6.1 million in tax revenue annually from visitor room rentals – that’s more than all but two counties in the state. Tourism-generated tax revenue provides more than $1,200 in tax relief per household each year.
The increasing level of tourism activity brings a continued boost in employment as well. Data from 2016 shows that tourism-related jobs made up 16.6 percent of the total job base in Washington County, and tourism-related employment opportunities grew by 22 percent from 2012-2016.
Sports tourism has played a major role in building the county’s brand as a world-class destination. In 2017, the county hosted more than 40 major events that brought in $78 million in economic impact.
This chamber session will focus on the role of sports and outdoor recreation in the tourism strategy, with a highlight on some new events that you may want to be part of this year.
- What: Chamber Training Luncheon featuring Washington County Director of Tourism Kevin Lewis.
- When: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Where: Hilton Garden Inn, 1731 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George.
- Cost: $15 for members; $20 for nonmembers. Registration can be completed online.