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By Myrna Trauntvein
If the Six County area could be a destination for those who like the growing sport of OHV (Off Highway Vehicle), it would increase tourism dollars for Juab County.
A Six County Marketing Campaign was presented to Juab County Commissioners that is aimed at increasing travel in the Six County area.
Clinton Painter, commissioner, acted as chairman in the absence of Richard Hansen, commission chairman.
Shanna Memmott, Juab County Travel Council Secretary, and Michelle Evans, Beaver County Tourism Officer were present.
Evans presented a computer generated program that showed how the Six County AOG could cooperate to make those counties a destination for those fans of OHV.
“There is an immediate timeline that needs to be followed which would need to happen between now and January 15, 2022,” said Evans.
There would need to be a collaboration agreement or MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) on the county level, she said. Next there would need to be an agreement and contract with VistaWorks.
“I use VistaWorks,” said Evans. “They provide destination management tools.”
Marvin Kenison, commissioner, made a motion to support the plan and Painter made the second. Both voted in favor.
“I think this sounds like a great idea,” said Painter.
A comprehensive draft plan needs to be designed, branding needs to take place, there needs to be coordination between the county representative and FIG (Financial Incentive Grant), and the FIG application needs to be made by January 15, 2022, said Evans.
The estimated FIG grant request would be for $1 million to $2 million per year.
“We are bigger than the national parks in our state, but we are not part of the Mighty Five,” said Evans. “There is the northern region and the southern region of the state which both have most of the tourism and then there are the rest of us.”
There are parallels to “Ski Utah” and “Utah Ski and Snowboard Association” and the proposal being made for a joining of Six Counties for the promotion of OHV trail development to make the six county areas the destination for OHV.
“That would be made possible by the counties pooling marketing funds and providing consistent OHV Education and Information,” said Evans. “One county may get most of the funds one year to do a big project and then other counties would get a turn.”
Promotion would consist of responsible trail use, providing consistent publications for rules, hazards and conditions via high-quality maps, brochures, newsletters and a website presented in a standardized format across all agencies.
“Collaboration gives political strength, advocacy for tourism dollars, and makes possible work with agency partners such as the Division of Parks and Recreation--OHV Program (FIG),” she said.
She said that OHV sponsors would also be solicited to support the program.
“Funds from the Transient Room Tax support tourism,” said Evans.
Counties can charge a tax of up to 4.25 percent on hotel or other accommodations.
“We charge the maximum of 4.25 percent,” said Painter.
Evans said that TRT was created to support the Visitor Economy through two categories: promotion and projects.
“It would require a financial commitment,” said Evans. “The sliding scale using TRT/Visitor Spending, Beaver would put in $89.8 million for 26 percent, Juab would put in $30 million for 9 percent, Millard would put in $82.8 million for 24 percent, Piute would put in $3.7 million for 1 percent, Sevier would put in $101.7 million for 29.5 percent, and Sanpete would put in $36.1 million for 10.5 percent. The total visitor spending for Six County was $344.6 million.”
The Utah Outdoor Recreation Tourist Visitor Spending in Utah data, according to the Kem Gardner Policy Institute, was $5.5 billion in 2019. The 2020 figures are not available.
In 2019, visitors directly spent an estimated $30.5 million in Juab County, a 6.5 percent increase from 2018. The top three spending categories were auto transportation, foodservice and lodging. Juab County visitor spending made up 0.3 percent of total statewide spending.
Visitor spending supported 243 direct Juab County travel and tourism jobs, a 10.1 percent increase from 2018. Foodservice, gas stations, and accommodations were the top three job sectors.
These 243 direct travel and tourism jobs supported an additional 27 indirect and induced jobs in the county for a total 270 jobs and saved local taxpayers money.
“Beaver County Visitor Spending, my county,” said Evans, “is $746,027 spent daily by visitors, one in four jobs (28.6 percent) are in tourism. Taxes bring in $6.6 million annually from visitors in taxes which means that $2,892 is saved by each household in taxes.”
Millard County Visitor Spending is $226,849 spent daily by visitors, 1.5 in five jobs are in tourism and the $6 million annually spent by tourism saves $1,383 by each household in taxes.
Sanpete County Visitor Spending is $98,904 spent daily by visitors resulting in one in 10 jobs in tourism and bringing in $4.1 million annually and saving $474 by each household in taxes.
Sevier County Visitor Spending is $278,630 spent daily by visitors, one in ten jobs are in tourism, and that brings in $10 million annually resulting in each household saving $1,358 in taxes.
Piute County Visitor Spending is $10,137 spent daily by visitors, three in five jobs in tourism, taxes bring in $431,000 annually from visitor taxes which saves each household $810 in taxes.
“Comparing Six Counties Vs. Utah State, we find that only 3.42 percent of Utah Travel Spending is in our Six County region,” said Evans.
In 2019, visitors directly spent an estimated $89.8 million in Beaver County, a 3.5 percent increase from 2018. The top three spending categories were auto transportation, lodging, and foodservice. Beaver County visitor spending made up 1.1 percent of total statewide spending.
“There would be some responsibilities as partner counties,” said Evans. “Each county must provide one point of contact, partners must facilitate all communication with their own government such as commissioners, and etc.”
All partners have equal rights and get a voice at the table to shape this collaboration. All partners get an equal vote regardless of sliding scale financial contributions.
According to Kem Gardner, although Utah’s leisure and hospitality sector has been far from immune to COVID-19’s impacts, it has been gradually rebounding since April and has overall performed better than leisure and hospitality nationally.