Media attention on Utah’s ‘toxic fog’ is bad news

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-25 20:38:51-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's bad air isn't new to locals, but now the unhealthy air is making national and international headlines, and the bad press is bad news for tourism.

Utah's ski resorts, desert getaways and business are listed at the top of national rankings, but this week, the press hasn't been so positive.

Fox News says that Utah's air is so bad, parents are keeping kids inside. The London Daily Mail and CBS News call our air a "toxic fog." Yahoo! News says our fog is "sickening."

Tom Love of Love Communications helps pitch Utah's great outdoors to outsiders, including CEOs. He says the national press is bad for business.

"I think the bigger damage are the national networks; CBS network, Fox network running those," Love said. "I remember listening to John Warnock when he bought Omniture and moved it over here about a year and a half ago. He said, 'The biggest problem I have in moving senior management to Utah is your air quality issue.'"

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says we can definitely feel the impact of the pollution on our health, but the economic impact is a big deal, too, particularly when the Sundance Film Festival and Outdoor Retailer market are in town.

"We welcome the world here to Sundance and certainly to ski and having this poor air quality certainly hurts our image," McAdams said.

Some of the winter tourist hot spots like Park City don't deal with the gunk, but with all the negative attention our air is getting, it's hard to let outsiders know.