POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah tourism office unveils three-year plan to keep visitors and money rolling in

Feb 20, 2020, 7:04 PM
Utah tourism 2020...
Photo Credit: Utah Office of tourism, as part of their Red Emerald Strategy plan

SALT LAKE CITY – A new phase in the plan to spread the wealth when it comes to tourist dollars in Utah.  Tourism officials love the billions of dollars that come into the state, but, some areas are bearing the burden more than others.

In 2019, tourist spent $9.75 billion dollars in Utah which equates to more than $1,200 in tax relief to every household in the state.  The five national parks, or “The Mighty 5,” have been a massive part of this success, bringing in people from all over the world.  However, tourism officials say they don’t want those parks to hog the proverbial action.

Executive Director Vicki Varela says, “We’re trying to flatten out visitation at the national parks and inspire people to visit our state parks.”

The plan is called the Red Emerald Strategy, and Varela says they hope it will highlight places “off the beaten path” that are not getting as many tourists as they would like.

“Places like Helper want to attract more visitors.  [The plan] has strategies to help them do that in a thoughtful, well-planned way,” she says.

Varela says their plan goes past focusing on the volume of visitors coming in and looks more at improving the quality of the experiences of both the tourists and the hosts.  To do that, they’ll be creating marketing campaigns aimed at niche audiences.  For example, they could make tours showing sites where famous movies were filmed.

“We have had people who wanted to go on a film tourism tour, but we don’t have that in place, right now.  So, under the Red Emerald Strategy, it would be fantastic to build out a film tourism trail,” Varela says.

What about the places that get overwhelmed with visitors?  Varela says they’ll be working with those areas to make improvements where they’re needed.

She says, “In the case of Moab, they need better housing for workers.  They need transportation solutions.”

However, this campaign is not just aimed at out-of-staters.  Varela says they’re going to increase education among Utahns about the impact of the industry.

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Utah tourism office unveils three-year plan to keep visitors and money rolling in