Salt Lake City—Five entities that focus on Utah’s tourism industry have concurrently received sustainability certification in a push to make the massive sector more environmentally friendly.
The Salt Palace Convention Center, South Towne Exposition Center, Visit Salt Lake, Utah Food Services and PSAV have all been awarded APEX/ASTM Level 1 Certification. The certification is part of a larger effort to get international sustainability certification and promote Utah’s tourism industry—and its convention industry in particular—as one that cares about its surrounding environment.
“It is no longer enough to say we’re green and offer that recycling bin,” said Dan Hayes, general manager of SMG, which oversees all operations at both the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center and the South Towne Expo Center, at the announcement of the certification at the Salt Palace Convention Center Tuesday.
The convention industry is big business in Salt Lake City. Its economic impact is far-reaching, and amounts to reducing the individual tax burden by more than $1,100 per year for residents statewide. The industry has been the topic of more conversation this year than usual because of the departure of the summer and winter Outdoor Retailer trade shows, which have each convened in the state’s capital city for the last 22 years. Those shows have certainly been boons not only in terms of money brought into the state, but also the tourism and other business that has resulted from its presence.
Though losing those shows is disappointing, OR is far from irreplaceable, said Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
“The Outdoor Retailer shows, the summer and winter shows, represent just two of 56 citywide events,” Beck said, noting that a “citywide event” is defined as one that leads to the utilization of more than 750 local hotel rooms and uses the Salt Palace Convention Center. “We have been and will continue to be more than OR.”
Both the winter and summer OR shows were held in Utah in 2017—the trade show will move to Denver starting next year—but neither was the largest single convention in the state this year. That honor for the third straight year goes to the doTerra Global Convention, which descended on Salt Lake City last week with more than 30,500 attendees from 68 countries. The success of the fourth-annual convention was pointed to by several speakers at the announcement as an example of the success and aptitude of Utah as a home for conventions.
For example, in previous—and slightly smaller—years, the convention has filled both the convention center and the Vivint Smart Home Arena, but with the arena’s renovation, it was unavailable. The convention center was able to manage its space in a way that was both adequate and comfortable, said Kirk Jowers, Vice President of Corporate Relations and European Markets at doTERRA International. In addition, he said, those 30,500-plus attendees from around the world came with a lot of different language needs, but there were also plenty of local resources available.
“Here in Utah, we had comprehensive translation services, not only in hospitality but [in the convention] so people knew what was going on,” Jowers said. “There was really no place on earth that could have handled this convention as well as Salt Lake City.”
And while the most visible impact is on the hotels, restaurants and stores in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the effect is tangible throughout the valley, said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
“The importance of the convention industry in Salt Lake is certainly great. The ripple effect is felt throughout the entire metro area,” he said. “Our convention industry in Salt Lake continues to thrive and be a driving economic engine in Salt Lake County.”