Even though Atlanta was awarded the 1996 summer Olympic Games, a move that may have dampened Salt Lake City's bid to host the 1998 winter Olympic Games, the area will still reap the economic benefit from the publicity generated.
That word comes from Richard E. Davis, president of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, in discussing his 1991 marketing plan for the bureau. He will review the plan Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in Little America for bureau members.The No. 1 priority for the bureau for 1991 will be to boost ski industry sales to take advantage of the publicity the area has received in the national news media because of the Olympics.
The bureau has always focused on groups and left the majority of tourism work to the Utah Division of Travel Development, but in 1991 it will slightly shift its emphasis on tourism because of the difficulty in selling the Salt Palace for large conventions due to its deficiencies, Davis said during an interview.
Booking 90,000 room nights for tourists, and especially skiers, is the bureau's goal for 1991, Davis said. That includes 20,000 room nights in group tour sales, 30,000 room nights in ski industry sales and 40,000 room nights for visitor services.
Part of the bureau's stepped-up tourism campaign includes installation of a 16-screen video wall at the Salt Lake International Airport that encourages people passing through on business to return to Utah later for a vacation.
Davis said there also have been increases in traffic in the bureau's downtown visitor center and the information center at Great Salt Lake.
The bureau's main focus is to book conventions for the Salt Palace, which Davis says is becoming increasingly difficult because of certain deficiencies and competition from other Western cities, many of which are building new convention facilities.
For example, the city has lost four conventions in the past four years because the conventions outgrew the Salt Palace between the time the convention was booked and the time it was supposed to be held. In addition, Salt Lake City lost 30 other conventions during the bidding process, and Davis said people told him one of the main reasons was because of the Salt Palace.
Davis said the Legislature will be asked in January to contribute $15 million to Salt Palace expansion and remodeling with Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County matching the money.
"Funding and final decisions regarding Salt Palace renovation and expansion remain the key factor in structuring convention and meeting marketing decisions. If expansion efforts fail, a review of basic bureau marketing goals will take place," Davis said.
Because of the Salt Palace's shortcomings, the bureau has been selling the building "as is," catering to groups that don't need large banquet space and the delegates spending more time on their own. If the Salt Palace expansion is approved, a supplemental marketing plan will come from the bureau to start booking the conventions that previously have sidestepped Salt Lake City.
Davis said 1990 was a record year for conventions in Salt Lake City and in 1991 he doesn't expect as many conventions but some will be large ones. The national square dance convention will take 32,000 room nights, the American Industrial Hygiene Association will take 22,000 room nights and the National Association of Counties will take 15,000 room nights.
To accomplish the tourism, convention bookings and other tourist-related activities in 1991, the bureau's budget is $3.1 million, a slight increase over the $3 million budget for this year. Of that total, $2.6 million will come from transient room taxes and other public revenue while $584,220 will come from the private sector.