The 2020 general session of the Utah Legislature ends in a few weeks. Park City Chamber/Bureau CEO Bill Malone’s number one priority is the tourism marketing performance fund, which is managed by the Utah Office of Tourism. It’s funded by sales tax revenue from tourism industries and is used for marketing, programming and the Utah Sports Commission. The legislature has appropriated $25 million for the fund this year, but Malone says there’s been a push to use a portion of that specifically for rural tourism development.
“I don’t know what we'll see right up until the end," Malone said. "Right now, it's kind of in limbo.”
The Chamber/Bureau has also been watching House Bill 280. Sponsored by Rep. Carl Albrecht from Grand County, it would allow small counties with national parks to use transient room tax, or TRT, revenue to mitigate tourism impacts. The bill doesn’t apply to large counties like Summit County, but with talks of over tourism, future amendments to TRT uses could be on the horizon. Currently, 70% of Summit County’s TRT revenue goes to the Chamber/Bureau for marketing, with the county using the rest for tourism projects. Malone says the chamber’s support for a bill that changes TRT uses would depend on what those uses are.
"I’m not saying that TRTs will never change—I'm sure it will change in the future, and those splits will change," Malone said. "But it was a tax that was advocated for by the lodging industry to do destination marketing."
Another bill Malone mentioned was SB 81, which determines incentives for movie making in Utah. The legislature gives millions of dollars in tax rebates to production companies after they spend money in Utah. Malone says this year, the legislature is cutting back on those incentives.
“It's interesting, a lot of the current activities at the movie studio with the Yellowstone series have spent a lot of money, especially in rural parts of our county," Malone said. "So, it's been pretty significant.”
The legislative session ends March 12.