Updated March 26, 2020
A long-standing statement on this page remains true: These are difficult and surreal days for our industry and for the world. The average daily spend in our $9.75 billion industry is about $26 million. Most providers are operating at 10 percent or less. We are losing millions in Utah tourism spending every day. Earlier this week we headlined that our industry desperately needs government assistance to stabilize. And we need to “maintain aggressive social distancing measures” to ensure the success of our healthcare system to respond to the pandemic.
What is Utah doing?
Gov. Herbert released a plan this week, Utah Leads Together, for COVID-19 health and economic recovery. It lays out a concrete plan to adapt, innovate and overcome through the pandemic. The state is turning the corner to deliberate and collaborative actions, beginning by testing around 4,000 people per day to contain the spread, and continuing through specific state, federal and local programs for economic relief. The state has built a one-stop-shop of resources for all Utah corporations, small businesses and entrepreneurs struggling economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following current guidance from local and federal health officials, the Utah Office of Tourism has maintained its attention on mitigating the impact from the COVID-19 crisis. We know that now is not the time to market but to plan for getting back into the market in the right way. We are on it, working closely with our agencies and partners to make sure we get it right.
We will strategize a roadmap for staging our industry comeback when the time is right while continuing to connect with travel dreamers across our customer service channels. We are searching for innovative ways to support our communities in the short and long term. And we are continuing to capture silver linings and innovations in our communities and to share and promote an economic response within ongoing restrictions.
Who to Follow
The state of Utah’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) information hub
American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Coronavirus Resource Page
U.S. Travel Association’s COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response
The Utah Office of Tourism’s COVID-19 Traveler Information on visitutah.com, which includes the latest reports of closures or restricted activities.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development COVID-19 information page (includes the Business Elevated podcast “Utah Business COVID-19 Help from DWS & SBA” at the bottom)
Destination closures, event cancelations and social distancing recommendations rapidly changed our visitor landscape and we could no longer responsibly encourage visitation. Since then, COVID-19 official guidance and safety protocols have devastated local business and are changing our communities. Following the Wednesday release of the Utah Leads Together plan that establishes an economic plan for the state, the Summit County Board of Health ordered all residents to stay at their place of residence except for essential activities or business.
We are working to build our voice and positive dialog within our community of followers and are analyzing travel trends and sentiment. We know that now is not the time to market but to plan for getting back into the market in the right way. We are working closely with our agencies and partners to make sure we get it right and will invite you to participate in the conversation.
On March 12, OmniTrak Group completed their Coronavirus & Travel study, which was conducted via an online survey methodology using a sample of 2,505 U.S. adult travelers from a professionally-managed consumer panel. Though a lot has changed in the last week, their two key takeaways remain relevant and underscore our need to stay united through focused community and industry support while sharing inspirational messages about travel to Utah for when the time is right:
- Unlike prior health epidemics and world events, the coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on the U.S.travel and tourism industry.
- Despite the unprecedented shock to the market, the foundational desire to travel will eventually fuel a recovery. However, traveler confidence will need to be nurtured.
For more information on the OmniTrak survey and insights, please contact Denise Jordan, email@example.com.
See and print/download our Visit Utah COVID-19 Talking Points (updated March 20, 2020)
SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES
Social Tone: At this time, sensitivity and uncertainty is at an all-time high across the social media landscape. As a travel/tourism brand or business, you’re in a challenging position of promoting your destination, yet remaining careful to not explicitly encourage folks to visit or make their travel plans now. However, this doesn’t mean you need to stop everything you’re doing and go dark on social media. Instead, it’s an opportunity to elevate your social voice and unify with the rest of your community and the world.
Setting a consistent and impactful tone is the best decision you can make in your social presence at times of crisis. Simply put: Be transparent, empathetic and positive in your posts and responses to fellow social users.
Themes: Once you’re feeling confident in your tone, you should develop content themes. The best way to determine those themes is to observe what other brands and social users are sharing and how you can be complimentary. In addition to observing what other social users share, you can directly ask your followers what they’d like to see from you. This is a very genuine way to stay aligned with your community. Self care/positivity, staying inspired, and responsible travel for when the time is right are themes we’re developing.
Community Engagement: One key theme is to continue discovering and celebrating the positive and innovative things your community is doing to cope with the situation (i.e. volunteering at medical clinics, checking on elderly neighbors, donating goods/services, etc.). Please use #VisitUtah on Instagram and Twitter when sharing these moments on your social media and we may feature that content on the @VisitUtah accounts.
Community Management: We recommend developing a few canned responses to help manage the questions and concerns you may receive around COVID-19. Please see some template recommendations below. When appropriate and necessary, we also suggest personalizing responses so your followers feel heard and supported.
CUSTOMER INQUIRY RESPONSES
Thank you for reaching out. Your health and safety are the number one priority for Utah. As [YOUR DESTINATION,] Utah and the country work to slow the spread of COVID-19, we want to encourage you to delay your travels at this time. It is important for all residents and travelers to heed expert advice as it relates to COVID-19 and follow the below healthy practices
- Wash hands often
- Cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue
- Consult with a doctor before traveling when sick
- Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
- Avoid contact with people who are already sick
- Avoid contact with animals while traveling
- Be aware of the latest travel advisories from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. State Department
We look forward to welcoming you to Utah [AND YOUR DESTINATION] when the time is right.
For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Utah visit coronavirus.utah.gov/latest/
Thank you for reaching out. In order to protect the health of our community and visitors we are (ENTER ANY CLOSURES/DIFFERENT OPERATING HOURS).
[Option 1] We have taken proactive measures to protect the safety of our staff and customers but ask that our guests also follow official guidance on protective measures such as frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes and avoiding discretionary trips and social visits.
[Option 2] We look forward to welcoming you to (ENTER BUSINESS NAME) when the time is right.
[Possible Addition] If you wish to support our business during this difficult time, please (LIST DEALS, ONLINE OPTIONS, OTHER MEASURES).For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Utah visit coronavirus.utah.gov/latest/
Small Business Administration (SBA) and Other Resources
- Utah is an official COVID-19 disaster area and businesses in all 29 counties in Utah are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
- Loans up to $2M will be made available to small businesses and private non-profit organizations, with interest rates set at 3.75% and 2.75% respectively
- Loans may be repaid up to 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis based on the borrower’s ability to repay
- Loans may be used to cover business operating expenses, including payroll
- For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail
- Small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19 can fill out the ESTIMATED DISASTER ECONOMIC INJURY WORKSHEET and submit the form to Janna Wilkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Utah Division of Emergency Management.
- Anyone whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic should contact the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This includes individuals who:
- their employer temporarily ceased operations due to COVID-19 with the expectation the individual will return to work
- are quarantined, but not showing symptoms, and will return to work
- are able and available (not showing any symptoms of COVID-19), but are unable to go to work because their place of employment has been quarantined
- The Utah Department of Workforce Services has COVID-19 specific information regarding child care and food assistance
- COVID-19 related information pertaining to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act can be found here
- Small Business Administration (SBA) is instructed to provide loans to businesses and workers affected by coronavirus
- Pres. Trump requested a $50B congressional increase to the program
- The Treasury Department will defer tax payments by qualified individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus
If you’re worried about whether you may have COVID-19, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707