Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Thu March 26 2015

Critics of Firing Squads Believe Tourism Industry in Utah Will Suffer

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | March 26, 2015

Critics of Firing Squads Believe Tourism Industry in Utah Will Suffer

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Tourism is a big revenue driver in Utah, but there are skeptics of the recently passed approval of the firing squad as a form of execution that claim the decision could give the state a bad reputation with travelers.

According to Brady McCombs and Lindsay Whitehurst of The Associated Press, the state government approved of firing squad executions in the case that the shortage of lethal-injection drugs sweeping the nation becomes an even bigger problem.

Critics of the decision view the style of execution as archaic and have made a compelling case that there could be serious ramifications to the tourism industry in the state. Utah is dependent on travelers visiting the state, with one out of every 10 jobs in the state being related to tourism.

With its share of ski resorts and national parks, a report from the University of Utah claims that the state generated $7.5 billion in tourism revenue for 2013. Any negative publicity associated with firing squads could impact whether travelers decide to visit Utah.

University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management director, David Corsun, claimed to the AP that the decision to bring back firing squads executions will only fuel the fire of critics who already point to uncommon laws about alcohol as a reason to avoid visiting the state.

While the decision to add firing squads has raised plenty of controversy, legislators and the tourism industry in the state have done their best to answer the critics. According to McCombs and Whitehurst, “State tourism director Vicki Varela said in a statement she doesn’t think the firing squad presents a major problem because executions are rare and the possibility that the state will have to use its backup is remote.”

Utah is the only state in the last 40 years to use a firing squad execution, but the method was outlawed in 2004. Officials expect to use the method when convicted murder Ron Lafferty is put to death, as he requested it before it was outlawed.

Using the firing squad as a backup form of execution may not make a huge impact on tourism right now, but when it is eventually used again, the state of Utah will be thrown into the limelight.

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