CEDAR CITY – A reauthorization of an existing tourism marketing program occurred in early April, allowing the state to match local money regarding advertising campaigns marketing tourism in Utah.
House Bill 34, Tourism Marketing Performance Account Amendments, passed the Legislature and effectively amended Utah law in May. The amendments extends the program from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2019.
According to the bill, “the Division of Finance shall for each fiscal year transfer the first $6 million of ongoing money in the account to the General Fund.”
The tourism marketing performance puts money to the office of tourism and film, Brad Wilson, representative for House District 15 and bill sponsor, said. The money is awarded to local government and organizations for advertising purposes to promote the state as a tourism destination.
Once advertising campaigns are created, applications are sent in. Money from the tourism marketing fund can match up to 100 percent of the money local government is putting forward.
Organizations such as the Cedar City • Brian Head Tourism Bureau, Brian Head Resort and the Utah Shakespeare Festival have benefited from the program.
“It’s absolutely imperative to what we’re trying to do here at a rural level,”Maria Twitchell, executive director for the Cedar City • Brian Head Tourism Bureau, said, “because our dollars are pretty scarce and so we’re able to co-op with the state to extend not only the states message, but also extend our messages even further to get more people to come to the state and spend their dollars.”
A co-op digital campaign designed specifically for Southern California was presented from the tourism bureau and Brain Head Resort, Twitchell said. The campaign was matched 100 percent by the state, ultimately increasing business.
“We ultimately saw a 7 percent increase in Southern California skiers at the resort,” Twitchell said. “We attribute that to that marketing that we did down there.”
The Utah Shakespeare Festival has also seen an increase of business from outside of the state.
“It’s a fantastic program,” Kami Terry Paul, marketing director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival said. “It allows us to take our marketing dollars, target markets outside the state of Utah and effectively double what we would be able to do in those markets without the tourism marketing performance fund.”
The Shakespeare Festival has seen a significant presence in Nevada, California and Arizona, Paul said. This achievement would not have been possible with the current budget.
Tourism dollars help the state because brings in outside money, Wilson said.
“It’s a really important part of our economy,” he said. “In fact if we classified tourism as an export, it would be the second largest export in the state of Utah.”
Passage of the bill
On February 4, H.B. 34 passed the House 72-0 with 3 not voting. On March 3, the bill passed the Senate with amendments 22-1 with 6 not voting and returned to the house for concurrence as to the Senate amendments. The house concurred with the Senate amendment 70-0 with 5 not voting and the governor signed it into law on April 2, 2014.
From Southern Utah:
Reps. John Westwood, Michael Noel, V. Lowry Snow and Don Ipson voted yes on the bill as amended by the Senate; Reps. Brad Last and Jon Stanard did not vote or were absent on concurrence with the senate amendments, although they and all the mentioned Southern Utah representatives voted for the bill on initial passage in the House.
Sens. David Hinkins and Evan Vickers voted for the bill as amended by the senate; Sens. Ralph Okerlund and Steve Urquhart did not vote or were absent for the senate vote on the bill as amended by the senate, although Okerlund did vote yes on the senate’s second reading of the bill prior to amendments.
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