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Amid pandemic, Utah is cutting back on ads to attract tourists

Posted at 1:36 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 15:36:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As the number of our coronavirus cases continue to rise, advertising to entice people to visit Utah is scaling back.

Governor Herbert says tourism ads will be either modified or pulled in the short term.

The sheer numbers of spectacular destinations make Utah a beautiful place to live and to recreate.

Tourism is also a vital economic component of our state, and has grown into a $10 billion a year industry.

“So yes, we are scaling back some of our national advertising, given the current circumstances," said Vicki Varela with Utah Tourism.

Visits came to a standstill by mid March as the pandemic saw international travel basically end and most businesses around the state close.

But by late April, with the number of COVID-19 cases stabilizing, visitors from surrounding states began to return as businesses began to reopen.

And that was thanks in part to the iconic ads that showcase Utah‘s natural beauty.

But with the recent, dramatic rise in the number of coronavirus cases and fears of hospitals being overrun with patients, officials with the Utah Tourism Board are readjusting, re-examining and in some cases stopping those ads.

“We are taking consumer sentiment surveys, we are taking community surveys to figure out, what are the right places to market." Varela said.

She added that when people do decide to come to Utah, her office is strongly recommending they engage in safe practices like good hygiene, safe social distancing and wearing masks. The office is also providing thousands of masks to local businesses.

“You just have to use good judgment," Varela said. "There’s an old expression I absolutely live by which is, 'you go fast, by going slow.' By being very measured about everything you do, to make sure that you are taking responsible steps to rebuild.”

The tourism board wants to make sure that Utahns are safe and the people who visit here are safe but they are also trying to slowly get a critical component of the state's economy back on track.

“I think we are doing the right course corrections as we have information to guide us," Varela said and added that her office is reevaluating their tourism ad campaigns on a daily basis.