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Visitor’s bureau lands big deal

Davis Conference Center to host ski conference in August

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FARMINGTON — The firm in charge of marketing Davis County to the world has a bigger budget this year, and for good reason.

It landed a contract with the National Ski Council Federation, which will hold its annual meeting in Layton in August. That meeting could translate into a lot of money for the county over the next few years.

When the federation comes to Layton in August, it will bring about 60 people, half of whom are ski council presidents, said Mark Harris, the federation's president. The ski industry will also be represented.

After the annual meeting, the word will get back to skiers who belong to councils and clubs that Davis County has something to offer them.

"We want to show the appreciation for any area that hosts us," Harris said.

"We're going to be able to reach out and touch a lot of parts of the globe," says Davis County Commissioner Dannie McConkie. "Weber County ought to be thrilled to death that we landed this."

Snowbasin Ski Resort, which sits in Weber County, was home to the 2002 Winter Games' Super G event, as well as the men's and women's downhill and three other events.

McConkie hopes skiers and snowboarders will turn their sights to Snowbasin again.

The ski federation represents about 300,000 skiers worldwide, said Barbara Riddle, president and CEO of the Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Those skiers are not just average skiers, they're avid skiers, McConkie said. And they have money.

"They have the wish and the desire to go places," he said. "We hope they'll stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants."

Just the federation's meeting at the Davis Conference Center in Layton could bring a 5 percent increase in skiers to Utah over three years. And at an average of a three-night stay and $228 per skier a day, $10 million could flush into Davis County, Riddle said.

"That's a pretty big deal," McConkie said. "(Riddle's) staff went and worked their fannies off."

So it's no wonder the Davis County Commission recently voted to renew its contract with the Visitors Bureau for 2006 with a $150,000 increase.

The Visitors Bureau will have $662,000 to spend on advertising, wooing clients to come to Davis County's attractions and to get them to use the county's hotels and restaurants.

"Our job is to put heads in beds," Riddle said.

That's what the bureau did in 2005 by setting a goal to book 17,000 room nights at Davis County hotels. They booked 17,692.

"It's a very, very strong organization now that's doing great things for our county," McConkie said.

Funding for the bureau comes from two taxes in Davis County, Riddle said. One is the transient room tax, a 3 percent tax on hotel rooms. The other is a 1 percent restaurant tax.

E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com