The Utah Travel Council says it gets its money's worth from the familiarization tours it conducts to sell writers on the Beehive State's attributes.
A 1985 study shows that the $7,000 spent that year by the council on the tours resulted in $2 million worth of space in travel publications, said council spokesman Joe Rutherford."Word-of-mouth" also is an important tourism resource, he said, noting that council statistics show that in 1987, 60 percent of the winter visitors and nearly half of the summer visitors came to Utah because of past experiences in thestate or from a recommendation from friends and relatives.
But travel articles have the additional bonus of being written objectively, Rutherford said, rather than the promotional praise found in advertising that can turn some people off.
"To get that kind of third-person look at Utah is just great," he said. "That kind of third-person evaluation tends to carry more weight. Also, this reaches different people. Some people will read an article but won't look at an ad."
Last week, the council put its best foot forward for two British and two German writers visiting Utah. A tour of national parks included lunch at Snowbird Ski Resort.
Europe represents a growth market for U.S. tourism, said Barry Hibbitt, a travel writer for The Daily Express and The Good Holiday Guide.
"It's big and getting bigger," he said. "Germany is much the same."
He said Europeans are more affluent these days and the relatively cheap dollar makes international travel attractive.
The "Color Country International Journalist Familiarization Tour" is giving him his first look at Utah, and he said he is "very impressed." After a quick look at Salt Lake City, he judged it "a very peaceful town, very progressive."
The six-day tour is also the first look at Utah for Elke Roehrig, a writer for the specialty magazines of Touristik Management and Incentive Travel Magazine. The periodicals are trade magazines for travel agents and vacation packages given as promotions, she said.
"It's a very small circulation, but it goes to the decision-makers. They're interested in information on what a state offers. It's very detailed, hard information. Who has tours, who goes there, which hotels are the best," Roehrig said.
The Color Country tour is one of six tours the Travel Council will sponsor this year. Two more will be for travel writers, one will feature travel agents, another one will involve group-tour representatives and one will be co-sponsored by the Utah Ski Association, Rutherford said.
A Heart of the Rockies tour will be hosted in June for two New York City writers and two British Columbia writers.
He said the council is already gearing up for the 1989 National Tour Association convention, a public-operations opportunity of large magnitude because it will include the nuts-and-bolts decision-makers of the country's bus-tour operators.
For National Tourism Week, the council will again sponsor its "Meet-and-Greet" at the Salt Lake International Airport. From 2 to 3 p.m. on Monday, tourismand state officials will be at the airport passing out tourism fact cards to arriving passengers.
The entourage will include Gov. Norm Ban-gerter, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, Salt Lake County commissioners, several Salt Lake City councilmen, Rep. Howard Nielson, several state legislators and Kent Moon, with the Small Business Administration and Wendell Wild, a Salt Palace marketing representative.
On Tuesday, the Travel Council will sponsor a block party at the Salt Palace and on Friday, will hold its annual awards banquet, and will present a symbolic check to the governor for $2 billion, representative of the amount tourism brings to Utah each year, said Rutherford.