ANTELOPE ISLAND — Unusually warm weather, international and national marketing efforts and the decision by some families to vacation locally because of a sluggish economy has Antelope Island State Park attendance and revenues on the rise.
Visitation for 2012 is up 6 percent through Aug. 31, compared to the same time last year, according to Utah State Parks Communication Coordinator Deena Loyola.
This year’s visitor count through August is 216,243, compared to 204,000 visitors for the same time period in 2011, Loyola said.
The figures indicate a projected rebound in attendance for the park, which experienced an attendance dip from calendar year 2010 to 2011.
In 2011, the island had 282,145 visitors, down 1.14 percent from the number of people who visited the park in 2010, said Hollie Brown, Utah State Parks spokeswoman.
In 2010 the park had 285,390 visitors, a 4.3 percent increase over the 273,510 people who visited the park in 2009.
In explaining the attendance dip between 2010 and 2011 calendar year totals, Brown said, the economy may have been to blame in an indirect way.
“When the economy is bad, people tend to stay closer to home,” Brown said, with families taking what are referred to as “staycations.” She said that scenario would benefit Antelope Island visitation.
But a tight economy can also play a role in decreasing attendance. With tighter school budgets, fewer school groups are scheduling field trips to the island, she said.
Antelope Island generally sees a high number of school field trips based on its proximity to the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.
State officials are also pleased that revenues at the park have grown at a steady rate.
Park revenues have increased from $596,689 in fiscal year 2008-09 to $754,502 in fiscal year 2011-12, Loyola said.
Visitation is counted on a calendar year basis, while revenue is accounted for on a fiscal year basis.
Antelope Island State Park Manager Jeremy Shaw said the increases in revenue and visitation are the result of offering a high-quality product and staff working toward a common goal.
“We’re just doing it better than we ever have before. We’re hosting more events, and we have revamped the way we approach the events,” Shaw said.
The increases also can be attributed to more people learning about the island through the regional, national and international marketing efforts of state parks, Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Utah Office of Tourism, Loyola said.
“In addition to regular (island) visitation, there are great events held throughout the year, which vary from campfire programs and the Antelope Island Stampede Festival to extreme trail runs,” Loyola said.
This year’s mild winter weather also brought more people out to the island, Loyola said, “and with the economy still a bit slow, I think more people are exploring destinations close to home.”
One factor not figuring in the revenue gains is the entrance fee.
Brown said the park fee of $9 per vehicle has remained the same for three years.