The 1988 goal of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau is to book 180,000 room nights in local hotels, which is equivalent to $34 million of future convention business and a nice return on the $1 million spent on development money, the bureau president said.

Richard E. Davis said convention bookings will continue to increase thanks to an aggressive sales staff and the fact that Salt Lake City has many attractive features, such as accessibility to a major airport, good convention facilities, plenty of hotel rooms and things to do.Davis spoke Thursday during an update meeting for bureau members and noted that three years ago the bureau was reorganized and became a private non-profit organization. Before the reorganization, Davis said the room bookings averaged 36,000 annually for four years.

In 1985, the first year of the reorganization, more than 100,000 room nights were booked and in 1986 and 1987 more than 160,000 room nights were booked annually.

Davis said the 1987 production was slowed somewhat because the staff spent some time trying to relocate 92 conventions and conventioneers booked into the soon-to-be-closing Westin Hotel Utah to other hotels. Davis said they were able to save 87 of the conventions.

A future goal of the bureau is to book 250,000 room nights in one year, but that goal will be reached only after five years of aggressive selling because some of the conventions are booked several years in advance.

"One of the great things about Salt Lake is that the people who live here have a great deal of pride in their city and they want to share it with their peers from around the country," Davis said. He encouraged bureau members to try and hold their national conventions in Salt Lake City.

Davis said a 1986 study showed that 10.6 million people visited Utah, which is pretty impressive until one realizes that Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, Utah's chief tourism competitors, each had more than double the number of visitors that same year.

In comparison to those states, Utah ranks above them in friendliness of the people, scenic beauty and the quality of food and restaurants. In accommodations, Utah's rating is comparable to the other states, but in entertainment Utah falls behind and in the availability of liquor Utah falls way short of the other states, Davis said in reviewing the results of several studies.