Promoting ‘scenic byway’ designation attracts tourist dollars
State Road 12 • Study says tourists drawn by its special designation.
Published: June 23, 2014 07:41PM
Updated: June 23, 2014 10:01PM
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6407: A beer truck drives through the vast rock desert along Highway 12 en route from Escalante to Boulder. (12/10/07. Loomis)

Promoting the “national scenic byway” designation of State Road 12 as it winds roughly between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks helps attract millions of dollars more tourist spending annually, according to a new study.

A yearlong study by Zion’s Bank Public Finance commissioned by the Scenic Byway 12 Committee found that more than 85 percent of visitors there surveyed were aware of the road’s national scenic byway designation.

It found that 47 percent of those travelers considered the designation extremely important when they planned their trip.

The average group traveling the byways included three people that spent 4.2 days in the area, according to the study, and spent $854.

In 2013, the study said 117,000 trips on the highway were attributable to the travelers’ desire to visit the scenic byway. It said that resulted in $12.75 million in spending, or about 8.5 percent of the total sales in Garfield and Wayne counties that year.

The highway was designated an All-American road in 2002 through an application to the National Scenic Byways Program, and has been heavily promoted by local officials.

“After 10 years of national designation and recognizing the growing challenges associated with securing grants and other funding for projects on the road, we decided it would be a good idea to measure the impact of our efforts so far,” said John Holland, coordinator of the Scenic Byway 12 Committee.

“Now that we have this assessment, the byway committee will use the information to estimate the value of proposed future projects to build support for our work,” Holland said in a press release.

State Road 12 connects Panguitch through Red Canyon (near Bryce Canyon) to Escalante (near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) and Torrey, near the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.