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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's tourism industry and the 100,000-plus people it employs hope the economy is turning around -- and they hope more visitors are poised to spend their vacations in Utah. The state is launching its summer ad campaign to encourage them to do just that.
The state is spending $2.4 million on this advertising effort, 80 percent of that on television spots. Tourism leaders say that investment reaps millions more in visits from out of the state and out of the country.
In marketing, it's all about visuals and humor and having a story to tell.Tourism leaders with the state think they've got all that in the ads with a bright-red, old-school SUV overloaded with gear, their symbol for plenty to do in one of America's most beautiful states.
"We've been kind of this isolated backwater state in many people's minds, them not realizing what spectacular scenery we have here in Utah," said Gov. Gary Herbert.
The governor kicked off the state's summer ad campaign Tuesday, with a new emphasis on how vacationing in Utah can make you healthier.
Herbert says Utah is not only a great place to visit, stay and play, but it's a great place to become healthier.
"We have more hiking trails, more places to walk and recreate, to make yourself get outdoors, become robust, get that blush back in your cheeks, get a little suntan on your forehead, and become healthier and enjoy a healthy lifestyle," Herbert said.
There's a renewed emphasis on Utah's state parks and other things to do.
"You know, one of the great secrets that we are now trying to make un-kept is the great golf venues we have in this state," Herbert said.
Industry officials say Utah tourism has weathered the recession better than most states.
Charlie DeLorme, Director of Economic Development and Visitor's Services in San Juan County, said, "You've heard flat is the new up, and we were pretty flat last year. We're proud of that. Many markets like the U.K. and E.U., Asian markets are reporting sales increases for 2010, so we're looking forward to a good year this year."
Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism Leigh Von Der Esch said, "I think we have good value. I think our messaging is resonating."Tourism is the state's sixth-largest industry with visitors spending more than $6 billion a year, which generates more than $600 million in state and local taxes.
The return on investment for the new ad campaign is estimated at $16 for every dollar spent.
Last year, international visits alone totaled nearly 700,000. Tourism leaders are aggressively reaching out to foreign markets, hoping that number grows.
"As we come out of this economic recession, we are well poised to take advantage of the marketing efforts that are already in place," DeLorme said.
The TV and print ads are just about the same as last year's summer campaign, but they worked so well they will be used again.
Ads on local TV in Denver and Las Vegas start this week. They'll run in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks.
Print ads in magazines like Conde Nast Traveler, Sunset and National Geographic Traveler begin this month and next.