The Grand County Economic Development Office received unanimous approval from the Grand County Commission to opt in to a cooperative marketing program with the Utah Office of Tourism and the travel marketing consulting company Canuckiwi. The program will promote responsible recreation in Grand County to potential visitors from Canada. The contract is for $7,000, and will allow Grand County to develop messaging that will be promoted through travel publications and platforms Expedia Media and Travelweek Canada. Expedia targets travelers directly, and Travelweek is aimed at travel agents and industry members.

Assistant Marketing Director Melissa Stocks explained that she visited Canada recently and learned about Canuckiwi’s partnership with the Utah Office of Tourism, as well as the value of Canadian tourists in Utah.

“Canada is the highest-spending international market for the state,” Stocks said. “The airport has two direct flights to Canada every day, one to Vancouver and one to Toronto.”

“Traditionally Canada has been our largest market outside of the domestic market,” added Economic Development Specialist Ben Alter.

Zack Fyne from the Utah Office of Tourism participated in the meeting and noted that international visitors are “highly valuable.”

“They typically stay longer, they spend more—these are once-in-a-lifetime trips for them… they’re a lot more engaged, they stay in hotels, they engage with guides and outfitters,” Fyne said. 

The advertising would aim to draw snowbirds to the Moab area during the winter months, with the intention of spreading visitation out through the calendar and bringing economic activity to the area during the slow season.

Stocks, Alter and Fyne also noted that Canadian travelers are likely to resonate with the county’s responsible recreation messaging.

“Canadians have been high on sustainable travel well before the U.S.,” Fyne said, adding that respecting the environment has been ingrained in Canadian culture for longer than it’s been promoted at most U.S. travel destinations.

Fyne also pointed out that the Canadian population is older than many other western countries, with about a quarter of the population at retirement age.

“They’re about 55% more likely to travel outside borders than people who are younger,” Fyne said.

Commissioner Josie Kovash said, “I wholly support anything that is more targeted specifically to demographics that show they want to spend some quality time here in a very conscientious way, and this seems like a really good fit for that.”