Utah's tourism-related businesses should be in for a record summer of cash register receipts.
"All indicators point to another great travel season in Utah," said Utah Travel Council spokesman Joe Rutherford. "Gas prices remain low, the weak dollar makes traveling abroad expensive and there is increased interest in the state."Rutherford is basing that assessment on the results of the Travel Council's extensive summer advertising campaign in major U.S. magazines. So far, requests for more information on Utah vacations are running 27 percent ahead of last year.
Earlier this year, the travel council spent $876,000 to design a flashy multicolor magazine insert that was placed in the February issue of the New Yorker; the March issues of Better Homes and Gardens, Travel and Leisure, Travel Holiday and Delta Sky; the March/April issue of Midwest Living; and the April issue of Sunset.
The inserts included punch-out cards that could be returned to the travel council for more information. By the end of March, more than 32,000 requests had been received more than 6,000 more than were received during a similar magazine insert ad campaign last year.
Travel officials are expecting their greatest response to be from the April edition of Sunset Magazine. Before the campaign is concluded, 60,000 to 70,000 responses are expected.
"The ad people told us to expect 90,000," Rutherford said. "I don't think we will reach that, but Utah businesses should still be in for a very, very good year."
The target magazines cover primarily the Western market, where Utah draws most visitors.
The Travel Council will soon begin testing a new marketing ploy with some of the respondents.
"We're going to take 1,000 names from the punch cards and contact them to see if receiving a 23-minute videotape on Utah would bring them to the state," Rutherford said. "We won't hand the tapes out willy-nilly, and there will be lots of follow up to see if they come, what they thought."
But if one tape will bring a family to Utah, the cost of the tape is insignificant when compared to how much money that family will return to the state once here.
The Travel Council is also expecting a record number of foreign visitors this year as well. "They know it's cheaper to come here than stay home in Europe," said Rutherford.