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$4.6M campaign promotes Utah as iconic road trip destination

SHARE $4.6M campaign promotes Utah as iconic road trip destination
A car travels through an arch in Panguitch, Utah.

A car travels through an arch in Panguitch, Utah.

Michael Kunde, Governor’s Office of Economic Development

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert and the Governor's Office of Economic Development unveiled a new $4.6 million advertising campaign Thursday to promote Utah tourism.

"The Road to Mighty" campaign depicts Utah as the destination for the iconic American road trip. TV commercials will air in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Denver during late March and early April. They will be accompanied by a national digital ad campaign.

The state's current "Mighty Five" campaign, which focuses on Utah's five national parks, will continue to air on cable television, said Jay Kinghorn, GOED director of communications.

The current Utah ad campaign has been a positive thing on major cable networks during this "intense political season," said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.

"In contrast with maybe the very difficult debate they just saw, it makes our 'Road to Mighty' even more attractive," she said.

While "The Road to Mighty" ads include footage from the five national parks in the state, the new campaign also features Utah's state parks and scenic byways and focuses on telling travelers that the great American road trip they've dreamed about is in Utah.

"It's audacious, yes, but our red rock country is audacious. Mother Nature played favorites when she created that spectacular red rock country," Varela said.

Digital ads will take users to a page on www.VisitUtah.com where they will find a list of 20 travel itineraries that can be selected based on vacation length, desired location, and interests such as eating, adventure or sightseeing. Varela said the itineraries will also help bring visitors to the northern part of the state.

Fred Hayes, director of Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, said he is excited that Utah's 43 state parks will be included in the new campaign.

"Folks, as you travel 'The Road to Mighty,' we encourage you to find a state park and come visit us. You'll enjoy it. I promise," Hayes said.

The "Mighty Five" campaign has already helped state parks. They experienced a 20 percent increase in visitation last year, he said.

Herbert expressed support for the campaign and his love for the outdoors.

"We host the world in so many different ways," Herbert said, noting that many international tourists visit Utah's national parks every year. "We are a state that really has a lot to offer the traveler."

The governor said that since 2005, tourism and travel revenue has grown 53 percent and now brings in $1 billion in tax revenue.

Varela said the governor and Utah Legislature have chosen to invest in tourism marketing, which helps the state's tourism economy grow.

For example, thanks to 2016 legislation, certain disabled veterans will now have free access to state parks. Lawmakers expect increased visitation as family members join veterans in the parks. The governor signed HB135 into law earlier this week.

The Legislature also passed a resolution recognizing the 100-year anniversary of the national park system. HCR5 was signed by the governor earlier this month. Varela said the legislation is "calling more attention to our five spectacular national parks."

Email: elarson@deseretnews.com