Grand County is hoping to lure more visitors to Moab during the mid-summer slump with a marketing campaign after a slow start to the vital tourism season.

The Grand County County Commission approved a $100,000 print and digital marketing campaign targeting travelers within driving distance to Moab during the hot summer months from July to August, and expressed support for expanding advertising to also reach out to tourists in farther-flung locations.

“Part of the educational campaign is saying that Moab is not just sunshine, blue skies, orange rocks—it is the night skies, it is the water, it is these other ways that you could come and visit our area even if it’s 105 [degrees] during the day,” said Economic Development Director August Granath.

Granath said the department had examined reservations from the Arches National Park timed entry system to estimate travel patterns throughout the year and identified July 4th through Labor Day as Moab’s slowest tourism window.

“July and August in particular are kind of underperforming compared to typical averages,” he said.

Commissioner Jacques Hadler said he saw the slump in tourism firsthand, especially after what many businesses felt was a slow start to the tourism season.

“I know March was a very, very rough month,” said Hadler. “I think summer is a good opportunity to increase visitation a little bit and do it in a way that the town can handle.”

The commission, Granath and representatives from Love Communications, which is contracted for marketing services for the county, also discussed possibly expanding advertising to also target fly-in travelers to Moab, who generally put more money into the local economy.

“The correlation between longer distances and higher spend in a destination is clear across markets,” said Granath.

“The farther you come, the longer you stay and spend, which is why the international visitor is so crucial…nd we don’t have them currently,” he said

Granath said that national predictions speculate that international travel would only recover around 2026—too long for many Moab businesses to wait.

“I personally would be very supportive of increasing the spend here and, looking at it, I think it would be prudent [to add a] fly-in campaign especially for summer,” said Hadler. “I think it would be good all around for small businesses that started on the wrong foot due to weather this year.”

“I think the right kind of ads and ad campaigns that have a heavy educational and responsible recreation component, and then I would feel good about spending more money,” said Commissioner Kevin Walker.

The campaign targeting drive-in markets was approved unanimously by the commissioners, with Granath promising to return with a proposal to expand the marketing as well as clarify a long-term content strategy incorporating educational messages.

“With the passage of HB 416, [we have to] basically shift over the remaining balance of revenues for this year that cannot be allocated towards economic diversification,” said Granath, who said the funding was roughly estimated at around half a million dollars. “One thing [the travel council] recommended was increasing the total budget for this campaign by at least $100,000.”

In 2021, the state legislature passed amendments to the Transient Room Tax, which is collected on overnight lodgings and makes up a substantial portion of Grand County’s revenues. TRT funds are earmarked for tourism promotion and mitigation of tourism impact—The amendments allowed the county to spend up to one-third of the promotional funds on economic diversification.

However, this year the legislature reversed course, passing HB 416 which brought the amendments to an early end and necessitated Grand County reallocate hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been intended for diversification projects.