Utah is under appreciated, needs more advertising
February 5, 2010
There was a lot of preaching to the choir Wednesday at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) made its case for funding to the Economic Development and Revenue Appropriations Subcommittee at the Utah Legislature.
The subcommittee can only make recommendations; it will be up to another body how much money tourism promotion will be given and that body is under instruction to trim spending. But GOED’s director Spencer Eccles and Leigh von der Esch of the Utah Office of Tourism had a friendly reception nevertheless.
The impact of the recession was obvious on the charts and graphs the two showed with 2009 taking an obvious dip from 2008 in areas such as visitation, visitor spending, tax revenue from tourism and even skier days. But what helped von der Esch make her argument for the same funding as last year ($7 million), was how little the decrease was when compared to 2007 a great year.
In 2007, $609 million in taxes were collected from tourism. In 2009, the amount was $625 million. The estimated tax relief on the average Utah family because of that revenue was $700 in 2007 $703 in 2009.
Total wages from jobs at companies attracted to the state by the GOED are already at 80 percent of what it reached during the last fiscal year, and the year was only half over when the Legislature started, explained GOED’s Derek Miller over Business Incentives and Growth.
To continue these accomplishments, continued funding is necessary argued Eccles and von der Esch.
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In a 2006 survey of how prospective visitors viewed the state, people were quick to say they knew of its natural beauty, but other areas were disappointing, she said. When asked to rate Utah’s offerings on a scale of one to five, "Lots of Activities for Kids" averaged a 2.7 score. "Luxurious" only got 2.4. Continued marketing funding is needed to make people aware of what all there is to do and experience here, she explained.
Every dollar spent on advertising brings a return of $17, she said.
The spending to entice businesses to Utah is also working, GOED’s Josh Romney said. A recent survey of how California-based executives viewed Utah as a business environment, 57 percent said they believed it has a good workforce and 40 percent said the state was pro-business. Compared to other Western states, Utah is the most business-friendly, he said.