New Leadership Appointed to Utah Tourism Board
February 17, 2012
Salt Lake City – Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert has appointed a new chairman and vice-chairman to the Board of Tourism Development following the recent addition of two new members and the reappointment of five others to the board. The new chairman is Joel Racker, president and chief executive officer of the Utah Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. (UVCVB) in Provo, who represents Utah, Summit, Juab, and Wasatch counties. Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, has been appointed as the vice-chairman. The 13-member policy board works with the Utah Office of Tourism, an agency of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Board members oversee the state’s $7 million Tourism Marketing Performance Fund that is used to promote the Utah Life Elevated® brand to out-of-state visitors.
For the past nine years, Racker has led the tourism and convention services effort for Utah County. Prior to joining the UVCVB in March 2003, he was employed with Marriott International for 17 years. Racker received a degree in business management and marketing from Brigham Young University.
Rafferty, who represents the ski industry, was communications director for Ski Utah for seven years before he was promoted to president in 2005. He has previous experience at Park City Mountain Resort and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.
“We look forward to working with Joel as chairman,” said Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. “He has vast knowledge of the hospitality and meeting industry and has served the board on the Cooperative Marketing Committee. Nathan brings great insight in public relations and of course, the ski industry. He currently serves on the board’s Marketing Committee. This board is a policy board, so good industry leadership is always critical.”
“I am looking forward to serving as chairman and working with the UOT board and staff on our marketing priorities to increase visitor spending and year-round visitation to Utah, which includes winter and summer advertising campaigns,” said Racker. “Tourism is a $6.5 billion industry in the state of Utah, and because of the tax revenue generated by visitor spending, each Utah household pays $1,000 less in taxes each year. Utah’s tourism product mix is second to none in this country; our advertising and marketing program needs to maximize exposure for this great state, which will result in increased jobs and more tax revenue into state coffers.”
New to the board are Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the College of Fine Arts and Communication at Brigham Young University, and Lance Syrett, general manager of the Ruby's Inn hotels in Bryce Canyon.
Sheets previously served as the director of the BYU Advanced Advertising Lab and professor of Advertising in the Communications Department for eight years. He worked as the marketing communications manager at Time Inc. in New York City and later as the marketing director at FranklinCovey and Deseret Book in Salt Lake City. Sheets holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communications from BYU and completed a post-graduate program at the University of Utah.
Syrett is serving as the current president of the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association and is a graduate of Southern Utah University. He is the resort hotel level general manager at Ruby’s Inn hotels, a fourth generation family business located in Bryce Canyon City.
Board members who were reappointed include: Hans Fuegi, restaurant industry; Pam Hilton, Washington, Iron, Beaver, Sanpete, Sevier, and Millard Counties; John Holland, San Juan, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, and Kane Counties; Bill Malone, Utah Tourism Industry Coalition; and Jeff Robbins, Salt Lake Tooele, and Morgan Counties.
The existing members of the tourism board are: Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Utah Association of Counties; Colin Fryer, Carbon, Emery, Grand, Duchesne, Daggett, and Uintah Counties; Georgianna Knudson, Davis, Weber, Box Elder, Cache, and Rich Counties; and Mike Taylor, motor vehicle rental industry.
(Images attached of board leadership and new members)
# # #
Utah Office of Tourism
Governor's Office of Economic Development
300 N. State St.
Council Hall/Capitol Hill
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Utah “Life Elevated®”