SALT LAKE CITY — There's lots of ski towns around the world but Salt Lake is unique for the four world-class ski resorts in its own backyard.
To set the area apart from ski towns worldwide, government, tourism and ski industry representatives launched a new national campaign Tuesday intended to reposition Salt Lake City as Ski City USA.
As the tagline goes, "Once you've stayed in Ski City, you'll never stay in a ski town."
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, speaking at an event to launch the campaign, said the Ski City USA not only focuses on the canyons' profound beauty and recreational opportunities, it highlights the dining, accommodations, nightlife and other activities available in the county and just minutes away from the ski slopes.
"Ski City USA is a fantastic alternative to the traditional ski or snowboard experience where visitors are restricted by the limited offerings of a small resort town," said McAdams.
"Whether you live in Salt Lake or you live thousands of miles away, you can become a virtual resident of Ski City USA through social portals — joining a community united in being 'locals' of Ski City USA."
The $1.8 million national advertising campaign, which will largely be conducted on an interactive website, www.SkiCityUSA.com, also includes print advertising. Transient room taxes paid by visitors to the city paid for the campaign, said Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
"We know our biggest market is Southern California," Beck said. "There's a number of people who already know us as Ski City USA."
Asked whether the campaign was an answer to last week's announcement that Park City Mountain Resort had been purchased by Vail Resorts, Bob Bonar, president of Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, said the joint marketing campaign is not related to those events.
"This is a little bit of a catch-up campaign that I’m very, very grateful for," Bonar said.
McAdams said the campaign had been about a year in the works. In addition to better marketing the four resorts — Snowbird, Alta, Brighton and Solitude — and the county's tourism amenities, the campaign also advertises the resorts' Super Pass.
The pass saves ski tourists time and money, Beck said. Purchasers will receive up to 25 percent off regular price lift tickets, 40 percent off ski rentals and free transportation on UTA ski buses and TRAX. Pass holders can bypass resort ticket windows and head straight to the slopes, he said
While Utah is well-known for its world-class skiing, it has some work to do to establish its identity apart from Denver, acknowledged Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding.
Half of people who responded to a national poll of some 1,100 people misidentified the Salt Lake City skyline as Denver, she said.
"We are here today to let the country know that this magnificent skyline is ours and Salt Lake City is Ski City USA," Varela said.