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Author Tim Sullivan and his daughter, Juliet, beneath one of Tremonton's most recognizable murals: the meeting of the First Transcontinental Railroad. This image was captured while on a video production assignment to promote the 150th Anniversary of the Golden Spike [WATCH THE VIDEO]. Photo by Sandra Salvas


For me, living large is chasing opportunities to make the world a better place, solving interesting problems and carefully measuring success/failures along the way. We are living large, my friends.   

Some success headlines:

  • Utah tourism expenditures are growing the second fastest in the nation according to U.S. Travel. National spending last year grew 4.9 percent, Idaho 7.2 percent and Utah 7 percent.
  • Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature show continued confidence in our industry. This was reflected through a $1 million increase in the Tourism Marketing Performance Fund this year.

Some problems to solve:

  • We must measure success by the quality not volume of customers to create a sustainable tourism economy. The Red Emerald business strategy is more important than ever. We are on the right path to inspire the right customers who will spend more, stay longer, get off the beaten path and come back over and over. Customers who will love our state the way we do.
  • Rapid growth isn’t universally good. The Moab community needs relief from tourism challenges that have accumulated over many years. Fixing them will take local, regional and state leadership. Moab leaders want to stabilize their tourism economy and cultivate more economic diversity. I am inspired to be a good partner. We must create custom solutions that will improve the quality of life for local residents. We need to protect this crown jewel while we direct growth to areas that want it.
  • A recent legislative audit of Transient Room Tax collections and expenditures highlights ways to improve. For example, county reporting of expenditures and tax collections by the state must improve. Also, counties want more spending flexibility. We look forward to defining the best solutions. 

So, yes, my friends, we are living large. We have problems that are big enough to see and small enough to solve. Let’s seize the opportunity to make the world a better place for our residents and our visitors. Let’s make good things happen!

—Vicki Varela, Managing Director

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Getting Back on the Mountain



Building customer service through chat
In January of 2018, the Utah Office of Tourism soft-launched its Intercom-based live chat service to address visitor concerns during that month’s brief federal government shutdown. The UOT's communication team went on to unroll the service across and added its key customer-facing team members, Dave Hansford and Ben Dodds. Questions range from quick inquiries to in-depth itinerary building, and these questions lend to our content strategy. Popular topics include the national parks, visitor hours, road safety, hiking options, lodging, maps, material requests and, during the winter, skiing. In the last three months, the UOT responded to more than 250 conversations, often within 5–10 minutes. In the future, the UOT will test promoting its chat service to segments of visitors to continue offering travel planning support that is meaningful, trustworthy and easy.


Farewell to Emily
It is bittersweet for me to announce the departure of Emily Moench, UOT's PR manager. Over Emily's five years in our office, she elevated UOT's public relations program by focusing our pitching and hosting efforts to a targeted list of most influential publications, implementing a rigorous scoring system and expanding our PR strategy globally by better coordinating efforts with our international in-market reps. Most of all, we will miss Emily’s enthusiasm for tourism, her deep knowledge of all corners of Utah and her sunny personality. Emily will become the new director of marketing for Strategic Education Inc., marketing and promoting coding bootcamps across the United States. We wish her great success in this new career chapter.
— Jay Kinghorn


UOT launches ‘What Lies Between’ campaign
The Utah Office of Tourism recently launched its 3-season domestic marketing campaign for 2019. The initiative continues to build on the success of The Mighty Five®, recognizing that visitors to Utah will still visit the national parks, while also introducing these travelers to amazing destinations that lie between the national parks. This campaign aligns effectively with our winter, urban and year-round advertising promoting all parts of the state.

As part of our Tourism Red Emerald business initiative, UOT conducted and reviewed quantitative and qualitative research to identify the following target audiences: families, repeat visitors, achievers (people who like to push themselves physically in the outdoors) and explorers (people who will take the time to really explore and get to know an area).

For the primary TV ad, we produced a new voiceover and new music to use with the images from the :30-second Road to Mighty® spot. Additionally, :15- and :06-second spots were created for targeted audiences. Ads are running on national cable, addressable cable and connected TV, along with a limited run of The Mighty Five on national cable. Digital advertising continues to increase as a large portion of the media mix, including programmatic display and native advertising, social, pre-roll, etc. Out-of-home ads are running in Los Angeles and Denver.

The $5.5 million campaign began in a limited way in mid-February and ramped up to full-strength in March and April. Digital advertising continues through June. The ads can be found at and under “Trailers, Ads and Campaigns” on the Visit Utah YouTube channel.


The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIHub) has created a Rural Philanthropy Toolkit to support rural communities build relationships with philanthropies.

New research from Headwaters Economics shows that recreation counties, especially in rural and suburban areas, experienced higher population and income growth since the end of the Great Recession in 2010.

According to a National Governors Association action guide, when rural regions lose their traditional industries, they can capitalize on their creative assets to reimagine — and realize — a new future. Drawing on quantitative data, an extensive scan of field practices and insights from a national panel of rural development experts, the guide offers a five-point policy framework and 27 policy action steps, illustrated by 100 examples of how arts-based strategies have worked in diverse geographic settings.

May 1–3, 2019
American Planning Association-Utah Conference

May 6–10, 2019
National Travel and Tourism Week

May 9, 2019
UOT Board Meeting

May 10, 2019
Golden Spike Celebration
12-2 p.m. | Watch the broadcast

June 1-5, 2019

June 14, 2019
UOT Board Meeting

August 17–20, 2019
Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO)
Copyright © 2019 Utah Office of Tourism, All rights reserved.

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