More than just a one-time boost, majority of 8,000 Ironman visitors say they will return to vacation

Overall winner Rudy Von Berg crosses the finish line of the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — This year’s IRONMAN 70.3 St. George North American Pro Championship attracted the attention of the triathlete world following the formal announcement of being selected as the host venue for the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

Participants biking in the 2019 Ironman 70.3 in Southern Utah, May 4, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The race attracted more than 8,000 visitors to Southern Utah and directly infused an estimated $6 million to $7 million into the local economy. Restaurants, hotels and local merchants benefited from the thousands of visitors that flocked to the area to support the athletes in a highly competitive race, according to a press release from the Ironman organization.

IRONMAN 70.3 St. George is expected to generate more than just a one-time economic boost for the area. According to athletes surveyed during the May 4 triathlon, an overwhelming 74% of visitors reported that they plan to return and vacation in St. George and 61% plan to race next year’s full distance IRONMAN.

“This was the most exciting year in our 10 year history,” said Kevin Lewis, Washington County’s office of tourism director.

“There have been so many positive comments from our community about our new five-year plan including the full distance IRONMAN next year and the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. It’s great to know that this community supports IRONMAN and that really makes the difference in being able to host a world championship race,” Lewis said.

An athlete biking near Dixie Rock in St. George, Utah, May 4, 2019 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

This year’s race included 71 professional athletes and nearly 2,400 total participants from 34 countries and 47 states.

The five-year plan announcement added to the excitement as many local and non-local athletes started making plans to train and race in St. George in the coming years.

The five-year plan includes six races starting with the full distance IRONMAN next year on a three-year rotating basis. 2021 will feature the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship race in May and the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in September. Of the athletes surveyed, 51.6% plan to train to qualify for the world championship race.

The full IRONMAN is expected to generate a $8 million to $12 million economic impact and the world championships a $20 million to $25 million impact.

“The excitement is going to continue for the next few years. Now the work begins on planning for what’s to come,” Lewis said.

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