The Tourism Committee of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce have spawned a subcommittee to focus on how best to promote winter tourism in Utah.

Under the direction of chairwoman Marie Nelson, the group held a meeting Monday to tell of its goal of increasing Utah tourism and boosting the state's economy. Nelson said stabilizing the winter tourist industry in Utah to avoid the ups and downs is one of the group's goals.Gov. Norm Bangerter said winter visitors in Utah have a profound effect on the economy, spending millions of dollars, and it's a fact that skiers spend more money per day than most tourists. That's why it's important to get more skiers in Utah.

He said the ski industry in Utah still hasn't reached its potential, and the state still is being discovered.

Dick Bass, owner of Snowbird, said for Utah to overcome its present economic status will take the cooperation of many people to work on attracting more tourists to Utah. He said tourism is a clean industry that doesn't take much out of the economy but helps the tax base and provides for many things, including education.

Bass, who criticized the news media for negative stories about the effect construction at Snowbird would have on Salt Lake City's water supply, said a study shows that of the seven streams leading into Salt Lake Valley, Little Cottonwood Creek has the best water, and that is the canyon with the most development.

"I have been accused of raping the land and running back to the Texas with all of the money from Snowbird, but I am concerned about maintaining the quality of life in the canyon, and so far I haven't made a dime on Snowbird. I believe development can take place responsibly," he said.

Phil Pace, a subcommittee member who is a transplanted Oklahoman, said many people don't know about Utah, but 72 percent of those who come to Utah return again. "We also need to get Utahns excited about their state and educate them about what their state has to offer.

He suggested having certification classes for taxicab drivers, because they often give visitors a first impression of the area, so they should know what's going on in Utah and some state history. Pace also suggested a tourism speaker's bureau and complimentary bus tours of Salt Lake City for people who have to lay over for a few hours.

An offshoot of the subcommittee is the Wasatch Action Council, headed by Jan Cutler, which is investigating the desirability of cloudseeding to enhance the snowfall in the ski areas during dry years.

Cutler, who is general manager of All-West Transportation Co., said this past winter people had the perception that Utah didn't have any snow and cancellations were common. He said Utah had skiable snow, but cloudseeding may have given a boost to the snow depth and given outsiders the idea they should ski in Utah.