ST. GEORGE — The Ironman 70.3 World Championship ended a couple of weeks ago, but the economic impact of the race will resonate throughout Washington County in the months to come.
Before the race started, planners and city officials hoped the international event would generate somewhere between $15 million and $18 million, and early returns suggest that goal was achieved.
“Data collected from athlete surveys confirms that the county realized nearly $18 million in direct economic impact from participants and visitors who came for the event,” Kevin Lewis, director of Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office, wrote in an email to St. George News.
“Immediate impact is mostly centered around hospitality businesses,” Lewis added. “But those dollars circulate through other businesses in the area creating revenue and jobs across many sectors.”
Lewis said that without the tourism and visitor economy in Southern Utah, local residents would have fewer recreational, restaurant and entertainment options. They would also pay higher personal taxes to support other core services in the community.
“The tax revenue generated by visitors is invested into recreational amenities that are utilized by residents year round,” Lewis wrote.
There was also substantial media attention paid to the race. Lewis noted that the live stream of the race on Facebook Watch attracted over 5 million views with 28,000 concurrent streams and 43,100 engagements on race day.
Such media coverage showcases, “the beauty of the area, the quality of our people, the outdoor recreational opportunities here, and our world-class capabilities to millions around the globe,” Lewis added.
Ironman events showcase the lifestyle opportunities and outdoor recreational options available in and around St. George on a world stage, attracting future businesses and residents.
“One of the most important factors businesses consider when deciding where to locate is access to outdoor recreational opportunities for their employees,” Lewis wrote.
As previously reported in St. George News, due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Ironman World Championship was rescheduled and relocated from its traditional venue in Kona, Hawaii, and will take place in St. George in May of 2022.
Lewis said the success of the recent Ironman 70.3 World Championship helped provide confidence that St. George could host Ironman’s signature event.
“It is the most iconic triathlon in the world, and we were selected as the first destination outside of Hawaii to host it,” Lewis said. “That speaks volumes about the kind of destination we have become. We are now on a premier stage like never before.”
Lewis noted that independent studies show the Ironman World Championship generates more than $70 million in economic impact to Hawaii each year.
“If we get half of that, it will double the economic impact from the 70.3 World Championship just held, and easily have the largest impact ever from a single event in this area,” Lewis wrote. “There is no question that we will gain long-lasting economic benefits as well.”
St. George is well on its way to becoming an Ironman destination for athletes all over the world and the economic benefits to the city are lasting.
“We love Ironman and the partnership that has been nurtured and grown throughout the years,” David Cordero, communications and marketing director for the city of St. George, said. “It fits so nicely with the abundance of outdoor recreation available here in St. George and the surrounding areas.”
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