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Travel region promotes local area nationwide

Sun Advocate community editor

Kathy Hanna-Smith and Joann Eich stand by some of the thousands of information requests the travel bureau has recieved due to their constant advertising. The ads were made possible by several partnerships.

Members of Utah's Castle Valley Travel Region have been working overtime this year to show the rest of the nation all there is to offer here in southeastern Utah.

According to travel region director Kathy Hanna-Smith, the region started by advertising in print with the Utah Cooperative Marketing program.

The focus of the cooperative program was on Utah summer destinations and included a reader response program, email blast and register to win campaign.

Hanna-Smith reported that the program was speculated to generate thousands of leads, all aimed at increasing local tourism dollars.

"The first round which came in last week generated nearly 1000 leads," said Smith. "And the second round brought in 1300. Our account representative says that we should receive leads each week from now until the end of August."

Market insertions for this campaign are included in the Arizona Republic, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, San Francisco Examiner, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Las Vegas Review bringing in a total circulation of 1,001,000, a readership of 2,912,910 and 227,000 emails.

In addition to the cooperative program, for the second year the region has placed advertising in the National Geographic Traveler Magazine and West of the Mississippi.

The travel region parters with Vernal, Emery, Moab and Monticello to maximize tourist interest.

According to Hanna-Smith, this advertising power which is offered to many non-profit agencies including cities, counties, non-profit destination marketing organizations and similar public entities through the Utah Office of Tourism Co-Operative Marketing Program that is earmarked through the legislature.

Hanna-Smith reported that $2 million dollars are earmarked for the co-operative program and funds are then dispensed when specific entities write in for the the monies, which has to be spent outside of Utah.

The materials sent out from Castle Valley include the travel region's magazine and promotional materials from Carbon County Recreation.

"The office has to hire additional part time people to fulfill these thousands of requests but the return on our investment cannot possibly be measured," said Hanna-Smith.

"However we do know that if we don't do anything, nothing will happen. Without these types of partnerships, there is no way possible we could afford to buy at this level."

The local travel region has an advertising fund of approximately $90,000 that is generated only from the transient room tax of three percent.

No money is inserted in the budget from the county's general fund.

"Our opportunity comes from the ability to leverage our dollars through partnerships," said Hanna-Smith.

Annually the Price office does seven to 10 shows in and outside of the state.

"Tourism is an economic arm of economic development and every year we find new and better ways to promote our tourism region," concluded Hanna-Smith.

"Due to the business traveler, the visitor and the increased needs of the energy companies we are in dire need of more hotel rooms. I guess it's a good problem to have but there is more revenue to be generated if we could get some new hotels built. Many areas similar to ours are building new hotels, so we need to be in search of those hoteliers."

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