County Travel bureau promotes local events
The tourism season is fast approaching and the Emery County Travel Bureau is busy supplying funds for advertising for upcoming events. The travel bureau meets every other month and includes members from Green River and Western Emery County. The meetings are rotated between Green River and Castle Dale. Tina Carter is the employee for the travel bureau and Mike McCandless is the current travel bureau chairman. Other members of the board include: Commissioner Jeff Horrocks, Eugene Swalberg, Keith Brady, Kelly Bayles, Ray Jeffs, Taina Benson, Mark H Williams and LaMar Guymon.
The transient room tax was reported to be up $2,000 over last year. In 2010, $288,666.20 was collected and in 2009 $286,147.39 was collected. The motels in the western side of the county have been full due to the overhaul last year at Huntington power plant. The current overhaul at Hunter power plant is seeing the same results as all area motels are filled extending to Price and Green River and points south.
The restaurant tax was established in Emery County in July 2009. In 2010, the first complete year of collecting the restaurant tax the amount totaled $44,078.42 in revenue for the travel bureau. Half of the restaurant tax collected has been dedicated to the trails committee for the establishment and maintenance of a trail system in the county for both motorized and non-motorized travel.
The travel bureau handles a number of requests for funding for specific events which occur in the county during the year, mainly in the summer months. The MECCA spring bike festival will be held on May 20-22 in Green River. Their fall Wedge mountain bike festival will be on Sept. 23-25. All funds granted by the travel bureau must be used for advertising and the promotion of the specific event.
A triathlon is being planned for Green River in August. The participants will run on the golf course, swim in the Green River and bike in the area. The ultra marathon is also planned in October at Goblin Valley.
The Emery County Fair and Desertview Pro Rodeo requested funds for promoting the events. The rodeo will be July 28-30 and the fair Aug. 3-6. The San Rafael Classic Triathlon will be held on July 9 at Huntington Lake State Park. The Mammoth Marathon's Little Grand Canyon Marathon, half, and 10 k. race will be on Sept. 10. They are now in their fourth year. They have had runners from New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and every state participate in the race. Jared Haddock spoke to the travel bureau about the marathon and how it has grown each year. He is proud of the fact that last year 33 local runners participated in the event. "It really brings out a lot of people," said Haddock. The race begins at the Huntington City park and ends at the swinging bridge. The other race they are holding is the Crandall Canyon Marathon on July 30. Haddock said they are beginning promotion of the marathons now and are placing literature in packets at the other marathons including the Las Vegas and St. George marathons. An option for local businesses is they can contact him about placing literature from their businesses in the packets. The packets can also contain coupons and information about attractions in the area and can serve as a marketing tool for the region.
A representative from Go Utah was present to ask the travel bureau if they would like to continue their listing on the Go Utah website. Ninety percent of the hits to their site are from out of state visitors. There's a contact information screen where visitors to the site can obtain more information about a specific area they would like to visit. The travel bureau can choose the content for their page. The bureau approved a 12 month program for $2,295. From July to February there were 2,223 information requests processed from the Go Utah website.
One of the areas the travel bureau wants to work harder on is promoting the museums in the area. Bayles, board member, would also like to see superhost training be offered again to train service and hospitality workers to promote the area.
The trails committee is working on GPS coordinates for all the trails and trailheads in the county to be put on a map.
Another project for the travel bureau is the information booth at the Buckhorn Flat. The contract on the building for the information center has been put out for bid and will include a building, kiosks and picnic table areas with small pavilions. It is hoped the project will be complete by late spring. There will be hosts at the site during major holiday weekends and travel information available all the time. The restroom is already in place at the Buckhorn.
Guymon brought up the matter of the location of the travel bureau office. Tina Carter is the full-time employee and her office is a room in the county building. During the time she's been there she has only handled one walk-in customer for information. Guymon said an office has become available on the Huntington Main Street in the Hometown Market building on the south end. This location would afford more accessibility to visitors to the area. It also has a meeting room and storage space. Brochures and literature on the county and its attractions would be available to pass out to tourists. When Carter is out of the office, volunteers will staff the office to keep it open for tourist information.
Guymon said, "People visit our county all the time and head to the desert or the dinosaur quarry and don't ever talk to anyone. If the travel center is accessible, then the staff can promote our county and share information about what we have here."
The bureau talked of the need for a sign on the building and near the road so people will know travel information is available. The board approved the relocation of the travel bureau office to Huntington and the details will be worked out with the store owner.