Utah Office of Tourism

Case Study

A New Strategic Plan Focused on Stewardship Pivots to Quality over Quantity

In 2019, the ninth year of record-setting visitation economy growth in Utah, visitors spent a record $10.6 billion in the Utah economy, supporting 141,500 jobs and generating $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. Highly successful strategic and marketing plans contributed to this growth and it was a blessing but also a challenge. The Utah Office of Tourism (UOT)’s plan, The Mighty Five, drew so much visitation traffic that adjacent communities were overwhelmed. At the same time, potential visitor economies in other places around the state were under supported. In this context, UOT hired Coraggio to collaborate on the next phase of their strategic planning. 

We began with a comprehensive analysis of the current state Utah’s visitor economy and strategic position. Through a series of facilitated listening sessions with community and industry stakeholders around the state, surveys, and interviews, we were able to better understand how different locations and regions were experiencing visitation, what benefits and challenges they were encountering, and how an aligned strategy of stewardship might be developed.  An impressive number of industry voices came to the table, reflecting UOT’s commitment to community-led tourism development. We delivered a comprehensive Situation Assessment of all our findings, which provided a rock-solid foundation on which to begin developing the strategies to attract and disperse quality visitation.

Our planning team, rich with industry representation, held work sessions where we developed the Red Emerald Strategic Plan 2020-2023. Eighteen strategies were developed, falling into five strategic goals we built out and expanded from UOT’s initial plan:

  • Prioritize quality visitation rather than simply quantity of visitors
  • Distribute visitation
  • Continue powerful banding
  • Enable community-led visitor readiness 
  • Improve organizational effectiveness

We took the draft plan back to state-wide listening sessions to get community and industry feedback before publishing the final plan. This plan is a roadmap that guides the whole state—from the Mighty Five to the off-the-beaten-path destinations—as they create distinctive Utah travel experiences while centering on stewardship. 

Aligned in strategy and optimized in organization, Utah is poised to become the leader in responsible tourism management in the west. Other wide-open-spaces states may look to them as a model for ways to shape visitation in order to serve not only the visitor economy, but also their residents, their assets, and the sustainability of distinctive travel experiences.

Click here to read UOT’s final plan.