The Sundance Film Festival may bring inconvenience to Locals… but the economic impact is staggering!
As the holiday season comes to an end, things are in full gear in preparation for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, January 23rd to February 2nd. Having attended the Festival for the last 17 years, I must confess it is exciting to have independent filmmakers and executives, celebrities, and media from around the world visit Park City, but it can also be quite a challenge to navigate around our charming town. It usually snows ALOT so streets are narrowed and sidewalks are slushy. Cell service can be sketchy at times; every single attendee has a phone in hand and often one or two in their pockets. Grocery stores often look like they have been ransacked, no bottled water to be found. The state-operated Liquor Stores do a booming business. Saturday liquor sales the first weekend of the festival is usually the second-biggest day after New Year’s Eve with sales expected to reach over $150,000 at the Snow Creek DABC store alone. But locals know it is a great time to be on the slopes because it is often some of the best conditions of the season and all the lodging is booked with Festival attendees who for the most part are not skiing. Despite any inconveniences, the Sundance Film Festival has a very large economic impact on the state of Utah. “Since its founding, the Sundance Film Festival has become an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of Utah,” said Governor Gary Herbert. “Utah is a great destination for tourists year-round, but during the Festival we really get to engage in the worlds of film and the arts”.
The numbers below come from an economic impact study conducted by Y² Analytics, an independent market research and data analytics group in their third year (2019) analyzing the full impact of the Festival, giving a full and consistent picture of the Festival’s year-over-year economic benefits to the state’s economy
- In 2019 the Sundance Film Festival generated $182.5 million in economic impact for the state of Utah.
- The 11-day festival attracted more than 122,000 attendees from 48 states and 35 foreign countries.
- The study also determined that the 2019 festival generated more than $18.6 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 3,052 jobs; and generated $94 million in Utah wages.
- The festival’s five-year cumulative total since 2015 amounts to $681.5 million, with more than $66.7 million in state and local tax revenue generated and over 11,900 jobs supported.
- Of the 2019 attendees, over 43,500 came from out-of-state, contributing $170.6 million of the total impact. 21 percent of these out-of-state visitors indicated this was their first visit to Utah and 88 percent said they would likely visit Utah again within the next year – highlighting the added tourism benefits the Festival brings, which extend throughout the year.
- Per-person spending for out-of-state visitors averaged $3,410 with an average stay of five days!
So if you are in town during the Festival as a visitor or local, remember to ride the Bus – it’s free and fun and you never know who you may be sitting next to. Call me at or email me for more information!