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Utah County a good host to youths and families

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Utah County is a good host, especially to young visitors and families who want a cultural experience without a lot of expense.

Visitors say they are getting a high value for their money, and 66 percent say they are highly satisfied overall, according to a recent study conducted by D.K. Shifflet & Associates commissioned by the Utah Division of Travel Development.Visitors to Utah County tend to visit Brigham Young University and Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

Of the 1.38 million visitors to the county, about 83 percent came strictly for leisure and just a little over 17 percent on business. Half of that number came to visit friends and relatives.

"There is lots of good news in the study and some opportunities. The study indicates Utah Valley ranks at or near the top of the counties studied in visitor satisfaction," said Commissioner Gary Herbert. "Our retail community will be pleased to know nearly 21 percent of the travel dollars spent in the county are spent on shopping. That's the highest of the counties studied and higher than the state and national averages."

However, the largest share of travel dollars were spent on transportation and food. Only 8.7 percent were spent on lodging, due largely to the fact that many visitors stay with relatives.

The average Utah County visitor spent only $44.90 per day, and that's the lowest of the most-visited Utah regions. The state average is $67.80, and nationally the average is $78.

According to the study, the low spending average is related to low visitor household income.

Those visiting Utah County have lower than average incomes because most Utah Valley visitors are younger than 35 and generally single.

Utah County visitors reported an average household income of $40,100, the study said.

Visitors stayed 4.5 days on average, longer than reported for counties such as Iron, Salt Lake and Grand.

Auto travel is the main mode of transportation into Utah County, listed at 81.8 percent, second only to Washington County.

"Our goal this year is to get visitors to take advantage of more of the great things we have to offer," said Richard M. Bradford, chief executive officer of the Utah County Business Development Department. "With a number of new hotels and new restaurants, new shopping opportunities, Thanksgiving Point and other new attractions added to our wonderful roster of old favorites, and our emphasis on attracting conventions and business meetings, the future looks very promising."