ANTELOPE ISLAND -- Antelope Island State Park for a decade has enjoyed consistent visitation, and a growing stream of tourism revenue, giving the park a $11.7 million economic impact in 2009, officials say.
In 2009, the island had 273,618 visitors, roughly 15,000 more than what visited the island in 2008, based on recently released state park figures.
That in the face of a down economy.
"Antelope Island State Park is the second largest attraction in our county and offers a unique opportunity, where driving seven miles over a causeway across the Great Salt Lake, 'America's Dead Sea,' leads to a whole new world," said Barbara Riddle, Davis Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau president and CEO.
Riddle said it is the old wild west experience the island provides that lends itself to 71.6 percent of those visiting the island coming from out-of-state, including 12 percent being international.
The Antelope Island brochure, in addition to being distributed in over 2,600 locations throughout the western United States, is distributed through the Washington Ferry System with over 15 million viewers per year and printed in Chinese, French, Japanese, German and Spanish, Riddle said.
Using a formula of what visitors spend on the island per average stay, and multiplying it by the number of out-of-state tourists who visit the island, the island has an estimated $9.7 million economic impact to the state from out-of-state visitors, and a total impact of $11,713,699 when Utah visitors to the island are taken into consideration.
"Antelope Island is being discovered by both our domestic and international friends as we have hosted, in partnership with the Utah Office of Tourism, many travel writers/tour operators resulting in international media and additional tour visits," Riddle said.
The promotion of island wildlife, its recreational opportunities and its scenic views, by the Davis CVB and its close working relationship with local leaders and businesses, can be credited for pushing upward out-of-state visits to the island.
"Visitation is up because of the many new events and opportunities on the island for visitors to enjoy, and also due to the great promotional and marketing efforts of the Davis Area CVB, the Utah Office of Tourism and other nearby tourism and economic development partners," Antelope Island Park Manager Ron Taylor said.
And even though visitation numbers have bounced around the past decade, from a high of 330,698 in 2000, to a low of 250,958 in 2006, the revenues generated from visitors coming to the island steadily grow.
The island, through visitation and causeway fee revenues, reached $774,284 in 2009, compared to $716,379 in 2008, according to figures provided by Taylor.
The near $60,000 revenue increase pleases officials.
"The island brings thousands of people to Utah and to Davis County each year," Taylor said. "It is widely promoted in foreign tourism markets and is becoming more and more a destination tourism location."
The visits to the island also benefit surrounding cities with tourism dollars.
"Thousands of others visit Antelope Island as an additional stop while visiting other locations in Utah," Taylor said.
Estimates show 67 percent of all island visitors spend half a day in the park, putting into the local economy $37.50 per person, while 33 percent of the visitors spend between a half-day and a full-day on the island, spending an average of $75 per person, according to a spending formula shared by Riddle.
Visitor's interest in the island stems from it offering something "unique and alluring," a chance to make a short distance, easy trip to a island in the Great Salt Lake featuring fresh water springs, abundant wildlife, scenic views and pristine back country, Taylor said.
"On top of all of this," he said, "locals enjoy bike riding, horseback riding and the many fun events held on the island."