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500 FLORIDA SKIERS DECIDE THEY’LL GIVE UTAH SLOPES A TRY

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Convention and tourism officials hope a group of about 500 Florida skiers will help spread the word through the Sunshine State about Utah's slopes.

Officials are celebrating a decision by the Florida Ski Council Saturday to bring one of its annual excursions to Utah in 1994.Despite its sunshine and beaches, the Florida Ski Council is one of the largest snow-skiing organizations in the nation, representing about 14,000 members.

Fae Beck, director of tourism for the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Florida trip was the first large group of skiers the bureau has bid for.

"We've been targeting them for a long time," she said. "They always come to Colorado. One of the big problems is that many of them think this is like coming to Egypt, it's so far away.

"This will provide a pretty good economic impact, but beyond that is the exposure we'll get. A big selling point was that they could all stay together at a hotel downtown."

Lenny Indianer, president of the Florida Ski Council, said convenience was a big factor.

"Salt Lake is the only place in the United States where you can actually stay in a major city and be within 30 minutes of five resorts," he said. "At night you can watch the Jazz play, hear the symphony or visit Trolley Square."

He said council members also like the city's atmosphere and its friendly people.

Tourism officials targeted the Florida group because it is one of the few large councils without a local ski resort. It exists primarily to benefit the economies of other states.

Indianer said many members of the council have moved to Florida from states that have snow. Others are natives who wanted a form of exercise that would take them from the monotony of sunshine and beaches.

Beck said many of the skiers who attend will be coming to Utah for the first time. If council members enjoy their stay, the bureau will benefit.

"We want to bid for other councils to come here," she said. "We can use this to help us in future bids. We just feel like it's going to be a real boost."

The trip, scheduled for February 1994, will be one of the council's "satellite" trips. A larger excursion is planned that year for British Columbia, Indianer said.