Tourism Leaders Convene to Shape Future
Sep 30, 2016 08:40AM
● By Bryan Scott
Salt Lake City – More than 400 tourism industry professionals from across Utah met this week at the annual Utah Tourism Conference in Midway to develop strategies to grow Utah’s $7.98 billion tourism industry.
“We have a tight-knit tourism community in Utah and we’re all committed to sustainably growing Utah’s tourism industry. Educational breakouts and peer discussions help local leaders create their own roadmaps to what tourism should look like in their community,” said Vicki Varela, Managing Director, Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding.
The Utah Office of Tourism is celebrating its 10th year of supporting destination marketing organizations across the state with its Tourism Marketing Performance Fund, which has become a key component of the agency’s marketing strategy. An image study in 2005 showed people generally knew very little about Utah as a tourism destination. Now Fodor’s has named Utah the #1 destination to visit in 2016. Last year, visitation to Utah’s Mighty Five® national parks increased 15.5% over the prior year to 8.4 million visitors, and visitation to Utah’s 43 state parks grew 18.6% to 4.9 million. Conference attendees discussed ways of accommodating the growth of the thriving tourism industry and help channel visitation off the beaten path.
The Utah Office of Tourism, an agency within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, promotes out-of-state visitation to Utah through integrated communications, marketing and travel trade initiatives. Tourism in Utah is a $7.98 billion industry, which last year generated $1.09 billion in state and local tax revenue. The Utah tourism industry employs an estimated 137,000 Utahns.
The overall mission of the Utah Tourism Industry Association (UTIA) is to serve as the coordinating body for the combined interests of associations, chambers, organizations, businesses, and individuals engaged in serving and developing tourism in Utah. UTIA is an organization that focuses on issues of concern to all organizations involved in tourism rather than just the narrower interests of individual tourism entities.