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Salt Lake City, often regarded as a jumping-off point for world-class ski resorts or red rock national parks, is earning a reputation as a tourism destination in its own right.
The city is Utah’s single largest tourist draw, and the proof is in tax receipts from hotels, restaurants and rental cars, Visit Salt Lake President and CEO Scott Beck said.
“The longer I am in this role, it’s very apparent to me that people do not see the Wasatch Front as a tourism destination,” Beck told The Salt Lake Tribune. “When they think Utah tourism, they think red rock and snow, the canyons of southern Utah and the snow-capped mountains of Park City. Salt Lake by any measure is the biggest generator of tourism revenue.”
It’s long been known that the Mormon church’s Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake is Utah’s busiest tourist venue. But Beck says Salt Lake City is becoming popular as well. Part of that is due to the opening last year of City Creek, the opulent shopping mall.
National Geographic rates Salt Lake City the best city for hiking trail access. AARP Magazine says Salt Lake City offers the best city sunrise.
TripAdvisor has ranked the Grand America Hotel the state’s second most luxurious hotel, and Salt Lake City the No. 1 American bargain for skiing. Many ski and travel magazines consistently rank nearby Alta and Snowbird among the best ski resorts.
A new light-rail line makes it easy for passengers at the Salt Lake City International Airport to reach the heart of the city and other spots, including the University of Utah cultural district.
Boosters are doing their best to promote the area as a tourism destination.
“We have seen with the opening of City Creek that Salt Lake City is getting increased attention in the Intermountain region,” Beck said. “We are seeing a significant increase in visitation from places such as St. George and Boise. We are not just a place for convention visitors, but a place for leisure travel, shopping and dining.”
Food enthusiasts are coming to Salt Lake to experience new dining options such as Forage, Pallet and Pago or old standbys such as the Red Iguana, he said.
There are also plenty of museums, theater offerings and other attractions.
The Salt Lake Connect Pass offers discounts of 45 to 80 percent on admission to attractions such as the Clark Planetarium, Natural History Museum of Utah, Red Butte Garden, Thanksgiving Point, This is the Place Heritage Park, Tracy Aviary, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Utah Olympic Park and Hogle Zoo.
The pass can be purchased at different rates for one, two, three or 365 days.
Major draws are also cultural attractions such as the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Utah Opera, theater and dance companies and various concert venues.
Beck said the new Utah Performing Arts Center being built in the heart of the city will increase offerings.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com