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Utah Tourism booms with more cash

After a recent emphasis in the last couple years on marketing tourism in the state, the investment has had a positive result to Utah’s economy, according to Tracie Cayford, deputy director for the Utah Office of Tourism.

"Absolutely," Cayford said. "We’ve been monitoring 21 tax codes and we are up in all categories. There’s been an economic impact in the state."

Cayford said, last year, there was a 17 percent increase from transient lodging taxes and the state is "knocking on the door of 20 million visitors."

Because of the success, the state Legislature $11 million for the office to continue its work this year.

"We are very pleased," Cayford said. "It’s equal to what we had this past year."

Much of the allotment in the past has been to launch the brand "Utah: Life Elevated."

"We are going to continue to get the brand out there with the $11 million," Cayford said.

Cayford said 22 percent of the money will go toward the Cooperative Marketing Program, which helps non-profit entities advertise outside of Utah.

"This has been a tremendously successful program that is designed to attract out-of-state visitors to Utah," said Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. "Over the past two years, the tourism board has approved 111 applications totaling $3.7 million from nearly every corner of the state."

The Utah Office of Tourism will present a statewide series of Cooperative Marketing Workshops starting April 12. The workshops are free and open to the public but reservations are encouraged.

The Board of Tourism Development’s Cooperative Marketing Committee, which includes Donna Law, former director of marketing from the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Nan Anderson of the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition, will conduct the workshops.

Non-profit and destination marketing organizations that have been in existence for at least one year are eligible to apply for co-op marketing funding. The next deadline for submission of regular co-op applications is June 29. Details about the program can be found online at http://travel.utah.gov/cooperative_mktg/co-opmktg.htm.

If applications are approved, Utah Office of Tourism will match out-of-state marketing dollars up to $250,000.

"The Jazz Festival, Park City Performing Arts Foundation, for those types of organizations, each of those entities received a nice piece of the co-op available," said Tim McClelland, of Deer Valley Lodging, who also works with Utah Office of Tourism.

The Park City Convention and Visitors Bureau received $250,000, the Park City Jazz Festival received nearly $50,000 and the Park City Performing Arts Foundation received $91,010. Nearby, the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce Golf Wasatch group received $25,000 and the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce Snowmobiling received $20,000.

"They have taken that money outside of the state and each of them is now doing programs that they could not have afforded to do before," McClelland said.

Cayford said almost all of the counties in the state have "been touched somehow with the program."

"The Park City Chamber Bureau partnered with the Salt Lake Airport in a television campaign they did in Chicago. There has been funding that has gone to the Jazz Festival. Park City did really well with the program this year. The whole goal was to spread funding throughout the state."

The increased marketing also brought more visitors to Park City.

"We certainly had a nice winter and we saw increased business from some of the markets that Park City Chamber/Bureau and Ski Utah marketed in," McClelland said. "The conclusion is, it did have an impact."

This will be the third year the Utah Office of Tourism will conduct the co-op programs.

"It’s been far more successful than we’ve ever even guessed," Cayford said. "We’ve been pleased with the results so far. We had 111 applications and we’ve been able to fund projects in nearly every county now."

Cayford said a small amount of money for non-profits can be a boon to their success and their communitys’ economy.

"$5,000 may not mean much to us, but it means a lot for a rural Utah community," Cayford said. "All of a sudden they have $10,000 to put together a new brochure. It’s meant a lot. In some cases it’s doubled their marketing opportunities."

The opportunities have helped some events come to fruition when they may not have otherwise. Cayford said the Utah Office of Tourism has seen and helped a unique variety of events that haven’t been heard of before.

"The gamut of projects has ranged from annual festivals to one-time events," Cayford said. "We’ve funded Deaflympics and projects that may not come along again."

The continuing advertising seems to be building momentum. This past week, UOT placed ads on the History Channel and Discovery Channel and targeted markets in print ads in Denver and Los Angeles.

"Our ads hit cable on Monday and our phones were going crazy," Cayford said. "Our Web visits and our phone calls are up ten-fold. Visitation is up at festivals and destinations across the state."

For questions or additional information about the Cooperative Marketing Program, contact Dave Williams or Kelly Day at the Utah Office of Tourism at (801) 538-1900 or log on to http://travel.utah.gov/cooperative_mktg/co-opmktg.htm. Participants will review changes in the co-op guidelines, application and procedures.

Cooperative Marketing Program schedule:

*April 12 – Abbey Inn, St. George, 2 p.m.

*April 27 – State Capitol Complex West Building (House Building) Room W135, Salt Lake City, 2 p.m.

*May 17 – College of Eastern Utah, Price, 2 p.m., held in conjunction with the Utah Tourism Conference


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