Utah Tourism is strengthening its international presence with a relevant market approach

Capitol Reef, Utah

Utah is one of the most attractive offbeat destinations in the United States, with some of the most incredible natural beauty, wide open spaces, and stunning scenery. Zach Fine, Global Markets Specialist, Utah Tourism Office, sums up 2023 as they continue to build on their assets that increase their overall exposure to international visitors, including Indians.

– Prashant Nayak

The US state of Utah has its niche as an outdoor and adventure destination and is benefiting from its growing popularity, attracting both young and well-travelled tourists looking for a unique experience. The Rocky Mountaineer train has completed its third year of operation connecting Moab to Colorado, and Utah Tourism is finding it an attractive experience for MICE and retirement travel groups. Utah leads the world in designated Dark Sky Parks and is witnessing new tour operators and resorts opening new Dark Sky viewing tours throughout the state to enjoy their astrotourism offerings. Both attractions gained destination notoriety in 2023.

Facing the biggest challenge

Leading the way for Utah tourism, the main challenge in 2023 was opening visa interviews in top markets such as India, China and Mexico as the US consulate seeks to re-staff its organizations post-pandemic. Given the essential importance of the Chinese market to their overall impact on international visitors, the market’s slow recovery has had a tangible impact on tourism in the state, particularly in destinations well-equipped for charter bus tours.

Crossing obstacles

Utah Tourism is hedging its efforts in Asia by investing more marketing dollars in the Indian market as China slowly returns to its typical international travel patterns. Their office works closely with the US Consulate to keep abreast of what is happening in the market and targets users who already have a visa and have traveled to the US looking to explore more destinations that are not most successful. a song.

Use of influencer content

After hosting rising star content creators Aakash Malhotra and Larissa D’Sa, Utah Tourism spent early 2023 repurposing their content across a wide range of activities to show Indian travelers how best to explore the state, especially during the winter months. From social media campaigns to video presentations, one-sheet flyers and media pitches, they were able to repurpose this content across various media to gain more exposure for the destination.

Diversification to new horizons

The office expanded its efforts to the Mexico market for the first time in 2023 and doubled its marketing budget to be able to attend the Brand USA trade mission, collaborate on cooperative marketing activities with tour operators and host FAM from market for the first time. Given the abundance of direct flights from Mexico to their international airport, their proximity to Las Vegas (a highly desired destination for many Mexicans), and market research revealing significant interest and investment from their western neighbors, 2023 was an opportune time for increased participation in the Mexican market.

Changing visitor dynamics

The tourism office has noticed that consumers are much more open to renting vehicles and exploring the US on their own than the traditional bus tour across the state. More Generation Z and millennial travelers are increasingly drawn to the autonomy of planning their vacations, fueled by their comfort with social media and a desire to explore new methods of travel.

Optimistic about the future

Utah Tourism has seen a positive recovery in each of its international markets. While total international spending still remains below pre-pandemic levels of $586 million, and overnight visits totaled 587,000 for 2023, they forecast 34 percent projected growth in spending and 16 percent growth in total visits through 2026. They are recording 36 percent growth for India in spending in 2022 compared to 2019, so despite less time in the market, they are seeing positive signs and remain optimistic about the future.

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