March 1, 2012

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Article

Travel & Tourism

Utah Business Staff

March 1, 2012

Antelope Island is getting a lot more attention on an international perspective. So we’re thrilled to see that and partnering with them in bringing even more attention out to Antelope Island.

LUNT: 2010 was an interesting year for us. We definitely took a dip, and it was from our corporate market. Also, the social market went away. People that are pulling money out of their own pocket, they pulled it back in. But the corporate purse strings got a little tight in 2010. It spilled over just a little bit for us in 2011—the first couple of months. After that, people let it go. Our corporate market went crazy the rest of this year, and we ended up having the best year we have ever had in the Davis Conference Center. So it’s been an interesting phenomenon, both in transient and corporate travel with group travel in the corporate market. It’s been awesome.

Is the Life Elevated campaign continuing to be successful for the state?

WILLIAMS: The Life Elevated campaign launched in April of 2006, and it’s done really well. We did research before the campaign launched that showed people just didn’t know a lot about Utah. They saw Delicate Arch and despite it being on our license plate, they thought it was in Arizona. They see the beautiful Salt Lake City skyline or a picture of the Snowbird tram, and they would assume it was Colorado. All those states have been aggressively marketing themselves for a long time. And now that we’ve been pushing the brand for this long, we measure a lot of different attributes that people see in the state and how those have improved, and people are starting to recognize us as a great place for families and our beautiful scenery and our state and national parks.

They are also recognizing us for luxury now—Luxury Travel magazine has ranked Utah the hottest new luxury destination in the U.S. for 2011. People are starting to see that we have the beautiful scenery but you can get incredible accommodations while you’re at it.

GRIFFALL: When it was lean moneywise in the legislature, they had to take their foot off the accelerator a bit in promoting this brand, but it has made a huge difference in the way people perceive Utah or, more importantly, the way they perceive going to Utah for a vacation. Many years ago, people didn’t want to admit they were going on vacation to Utah even though they were excited about it. Nowadays, it’s kind of the reverse of that. It’s like saying you have a second home in the Hamptons and it makes you cool to be going to Park City.

BEAL: Tying into the luxury brand, Deer Valley being maybe a little microcosm of that, it was really beneficial to have a couple of those brands come on during the downturn. It might not have been as fun for them as it was for some of us, but St. Regis and Montage coming in right in ‘09 and ‘10 and having their built-in clientele was really beneficial.

I’d agree there is now a panache about coming to Utah that was not quite there before because we lacked some of those high-end facilities. We’re really fortunate there was quite a bit of dedicated following for those luxury brands through the downturn.

As our product has evolved, how have our visitors changed over the past few years, and what do we forecast—what does our visitor look like five years from now?

CAYFORD: I’d say more international visitors. Of course, it hasn’t hurt that we’ve had that nonstop Delta flight to Paris that has a very highload factor as well. We are seeing growth in our international markets. It’s really hard to track the data. Officially, about 4 percent of our visitation is international. We see a lot of growth potential in the emerging Chinese market, the Brazilian market and some other international markets that can help grow our tourism industry.

GRIFFALL: I’ve noticed a real uptick in the exotic markets, the destinations out of the mainstream—Russia, Bulgaria. Probably because they have the means to travel and the wealth to do it now, we’ve seen a real movement forward in that.

The Chinese market still has a lot of issues from a visa standpoint and what they expect and how they deal with the language. But I’ve seen a lot more from South America, Brazil and places like that, and we’re starting to see people coming from countries we’ve just never seen before.

STARKS: People historically knew Utah as a beautiful place with the mountains and the snow, but there is a new awareness that there is actually something to do. So in addition to skiing, we’re drawing a lot of big activities. For example, in Wasatch County in 2012, the U.S. PGA Public Links Golf Championship is going to be held at Soldier Hollow.

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