Park City Chamber/Bureau details plans to start attracting visitors once again
The Park City Chamber/Bureau has begun to restart marketing efforts to attract tourism after abruptly ending ad campaigns when the pandemic hit in mid-March, indicating to elected officials it plans to focus on regions within driving distance and that the Park City area is strongly positioned for those seeking outdoor recreation.
“We’re kind of turning the corner on that and it’s now time to maybe put out the welcome mat in a careful and thoughtful manner,” said Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, in a presentation to the Summit County Council last week. “People are moving into the phase where they want to start talking about vacations and a lot of them have not chosen where to go. But we know … people feel comfortable getting in their own car and driving to a vacation this summer.”
Malone indicated the summer advertising campaign would first target Wasatch Front residents and others who live in Utah, but would expand to eventually include markets as far as Seattle, San Diego and Phoenix. It would be all-digital, Malone said, enabling organizers to pull ads immediately from markets that might see a spike in cases of COVID-19. The state started a soft advertising push April 30, Malone said.
Officials have expressed worries that outside visitors, while integral to the local economy, might stress the area’s health care infrastructure and relatively small hospital, or bring new cases of COVID-19 to a community that struggled early with visitor-based spread and lately has significantly reduced the prevalence of the disease.
County Councilor Kim Carson said she supported the incremental, phased approach, as it resembled the county’s desire to gradually “turn up the dial” in easing restrictions on the economy.
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“We may encounter situations where we have to ease back — we just don’t know,” Carson said. “The nice thing, if somebody drives here and they end up getting sick, they drive home. If they fly here and end up getting sick — or they bring it with them but maybe weren’t diagnosed yet, that’s probably my biggest fear — they can’t fly home. So that’s a real cost to the community.”
The Chamber/Bureau advertising campaign will try to attract people who’ve visited before and younger couples within driving distance, Malone said, and reduce emphasis on families.
Malone presented a poll taken earlier this month by a travel analysis group that showed 1,200 respondents viewed road trips and non-team outdoor recreation as the safest travel activities.
He said Summit County’s open spaces, trail systems and outdoor recreation make it a prime destination.
“I think what we have to market is the right thing at this time,” he told the council.
On the other end of the spectrum were cruises and foreign trips, according to the poll. Nearly two-thirds of respondents felt it was somewhat or very unsafe to visit an outdoor attraction like a park or a zoo, slightly more said the same about flying and more than half said staying in a hotel felt unsafe.
According to the presentation, the Chamber/Bureau’s main advertising message is, “The mountains are calling, and we are welcoming you back to Park City… Our easy access to nature and our commitment to your safety make Park City the perfect place to escape and reconnect with many of the things you have been missing.”
Malone said the campaign would cost $250,000, down from a $600,000 spring and summer campaign last year, but about the same as last year’s digital budget. A bulk of the Chamber/Bureau’s budget comes from the transient room tax, which is reinvested in spurring more tourism. In 2019, it received $9.1 million in room tax money.
He said the Chamber/Bureau is anticipating transient room tax revenues to fall 75% in the third quarter compared to last year, and 40% in the fourth quarter, a prediction he characterized as somewhat optimistic.
“We’re like everyone else in terms of we can see — we have pretty good vision looking out a couple of months, it’s beyond that is where it’s a challenge for us,” Malone said. “This is a sizable reduction.”
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County officials indicated the person was a man over 65 who had been hospitalized with the coronavirus. No other details were provided.