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Promoting within and without...

Sun Advocate publisher

Why strong tourism promotion nationally affects local business

Attendees at the Phoenix Sportsman's show that was held last year at Cardinal Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., home of this years Superbowl, had a chance to visit the Castle County booth at left.

They're often held in big arenas where professional sports and large concerts take place..

They're grueling four day affairs that expose people who attend to all kinds of products and travel possibilities.

They're held in major cities all over the country.

They are sport and travel shows and the director of the Carbon County Travel Bureau, Kathy Smith, and the bureaus board select, organize and man a few of those shows each year. Some shows are paid for in conjunction with the state of Utah, while others are fully funded by the local travel bureau. But the purpose is all the same.

To let people know where Carbon County is, and what attractions there are in eastern Utah for them to visit.

"The point is that if we don't let people know where we are, they will never find us," says Smith.

While there are many people in the area that believe tourism is a small part of the economy of eastern Utah, it's impact on Carbon county grows every year. And it well could be the future of development in the county once the energy industry either moves away from fossil fuels or those resources now taken from the ground run out.

The shows that the bureau sends people and materials to are carefully selected. Some are venues the bureau goes to every year, because of their proximity to the area. Others are shows where the names of eastern Utah's cities have never been uttered before.

Sherill Shaw mans the booth during the 2007 Phoenix show.

In 2007 the bureau had booths at shows in Phoenix, Ariz., Denver, Colo. and twice in Salt Lake (actually Sandy). Other shows were done in conjunction with the state of Utah, where a person from the bureau goes to help staff a state booth. Those shows were in Cincinnati, Ohio, Houston, Texas, Las Vegas, Nev. and Redmond, Ore.

This year shows have been done in Denver, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Calif. and Salt Lake. The bureau also did a show in conjunction wiht the state in Long Beach, Calif.

For some it may appear that a trip to Phoenix or Las Vegas in the middle of the winter is a vacation, but these events are hardly leisure time for those who man the booths. Often they start on Thursday and last until Sunday evening, with exhibit hours being from nine in the morning until nine at night. While the crowd traffic on Thursday can sometimes be light, that is made up on days like Saturday where it seems everyone in town visits the shows. Sometimes there are five or six groups of people waiting to talk to those who man the booths. Those who are giving out the information about the area and telling people about the venues are on their feet all day long.

Consequently, there is little time to enjoy sunshine or warm weather.

The main job of those manning the booth is to let people know about the great attractions in the area; literature includes everything from brochures about the dinosaur venues in the area to trail systems people can ride ATV's on. Each show seems to have a different emphasis. One may have a lot of people interested in rock art while at another, individuals want to know about the camping and fishing in the area. Booth personnel must be well versed in all kinds of attractions to be effective.

Putting up and taking down booths is a big job, with sometimes two dozen boxes of heavy materials, booth displays and other equipment having to be carried out to parking areas or loading docks. Some venues allow vendors to bring their vehicles into the buildings to unload and load, but most don't.

Travel schedules also affect the shows. Between bureau personnel and board members, shows and events almost overlap sometimes. Many of the western shows require driving, while with others materials are shipped and booth personnel hope that the stuff to do the job gets there by the time they do.

So what are the results of all this hard work? Sometimes show attendees commit right on the spot that they will come to the area. Others say that the area looks interesting to them and they will plan on a trip.

It is hard to tell whether the seeds that are planted at these shows will grow, but without those seeds put into people's minds they will never come.

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