Washington County tourism office changes its name as part of rebranding strategy

Kevin Lewis, tourism office director for the Washington County Convention and Tourism Office, unveils new branding for the tourism office, St. George, Utah, May 23, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County Convention and Tourism Office on Thursday unveiled a community rebranding that has been months in the making.

The tourism office is rebranding itself as the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office. The launch and presentation of the rebranding are the first in many steps to unify the “diverse community found throughout the county,” tourism office director Kevin Lewis said.

Local marketing, social media and a new website launched Thursday to support the rebranding, but a new campaign for destination markets will begin July 1.

The process began when tourism officials sent out a request for proposal to advertising agencies in late 2018 and received 18 responses from all over the world. The team narrowed it down to six finalists who were invited to present their plans, Lewis said.

The office chose a Denver agency called Cactus.

“We undertook this initiative to try to unite the tourism entities in the county,” Lewis said.

He said the tourism office decided the first step in attaining its goal was to conduct an audit, so it commissioned the agency to conduct research on its brand and marketing strategies.

The logo for the newly rebranded Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office | Photo courtesy of Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, St. George News

The agency interviewed stakeholders from local communities and conducted a study of the tourism office’s brand among six different states, which resulted in 530 responses from individuals who had visited Southern Utah within the past few years and were able to identify Springdale, St. George or Zion National Park.

Lewis said his office used the agency’s findings to draft an understanding of the perceptions surrounding Washington County and identify what strategies were working so they could determine what other opportunities might exist.

The audit concluded that “Washington County” was a common name and did not draw tourists to Southern Utah as effectively because people “do not connect the area’s greatest tourism to the county name,” Lewis said. Tourism officials decided on “Greater Zion” due to the proximity of Zion National Park, the fourth most visited national park.

“The idea is to come up with something that is community led, so the strategies are focused and targeted on the things that will be best for the tourism community and all of the partners.”

There are so many tourism entities in the area that he hopes to work with and learn from as this community-led rebranding goes into effect. Lewis said he can’t wait to grow with these entities and unify the community and to build the future Washington County wants.

The rebranding is not meant to single out any one aspect of the region, but it is meant to share the prosperity and attention that a select number of places in Washington County experience with all parts of the community, he said.

Washington County doesn’t have an overcrowding issue but rather a distribution issue.

“The love doesn’t get shared across the county,” Lewis said.

The logo for the newly rebranded Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office | Photo courtesy of Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, St. George News

There are “rich experiences” throughout Washington County and part of the motivation for rebranding is to highlight all aspects and things to do around the area. Tourism officials hope the effort will resonate with tourists in a way that will move them from one place to another and “spread the traffic from the pinch points,” Lewis said.

Washington County is one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, and tourism in the area has a great economic impact to the residents. Lewis said tourists help residents of Washington County save approximately $1,357 per household each year.

He told the Community Education Channel that there are about 4 million hotel rooms booked in the county, which results in about $750 million. Each time a hotel room is booked, 4.25% of the cost of the room is for a “tourism tax,” which funds the tourism office, provides funds for the city’s marketing and invests in the city’s infrastructure.

“The residents are receiving services that they wouldn’t get without having to pay more taxes,” Lewis said. “So the visitors really become an asset to the community.”

In a letter to the editor, Lewis said tourism has created approximately 8,500 jobs in Washington County and improves the quality of life “by sparking investment in new visitor related assets that residents get to enjoy,” like restaurants, trails and parks.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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