Utah sees rise in tourism from China, new ads aim to keep international visitors coming

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has proven to be a popular tourism destination for visitors from around the world, particularly with travelers coming from China, and the state’s tourism office is doing what they can to keep visitors coming.

Kaitlin Eskelson, Utah Office of Tourism, said tourism ties into the economy.

“It’s all about visitation into Utah, so the more visitors we get the happier we are in terms of visitor spending, and you know it all equates to tax dollars and really the health of the economy,” she said.

The Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding has partnered with the marketing firm Brand USA to keep the state's visitor momentum going. Wednesday, Brand USA shot an ad in downtown Salt Lake at the City Creek Center just for the people of China—where tourism to Utah is growing.

“We just got word that it increased about 53 percent, and so we're seeing a lot of Chinese visitors coming into the market,” Eskelson said. “Overall, international travelers are great to have. They come, they spend a lot of money, and they stay for a long time.”

The spots are called in-language content ads. They’re meant to reach out and give a warm and welcoming invite to the residents of the target country in their native language.

"The on-air talent will be speaking in the native language of the destination to be shown, and they’re promoting all things positive and reasons to visit Salt Lake and the state of Utah,” said Shawn Stinson of Visit Salt Lake.

Brand USA was established in 2010, and the numbers show the in-language content spots are working.

“Basically, $7.5 billion in visitor spending," Eskelson said. "It’s great news for Utah, and that equates to $1.02 billion in state and local tax revenue; so we're very excited.”

Utah’s winter ski season has long been a prominent draw for world travelers, but Utah has a lot more than the greatest snow on Earth going for it. Our diverse terrain and the presence 45 state parks and five national parks offer a multitude of activities year round, including camping, boating, fishing, hiking, or just taking in the majestic scenery.

“The Chinese visitors, they value their national parks and their resources that they have, and they just want to come over here and they want to see the wide open spaces of Utah, and they're really interested in the ‘Mighty Five’ national parks," Eskelson said.

The Brand USA campaign has partnered with nearly 500 business and states to help entice world travelers to their individual attractions. Other countries targeted in Utah’s in-language content effort include France, Germany, Mexico and Brazil.