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Utah Office of Tourism Allocates $250,000 to the Salt Lake City CVB
 to Assist in Hosting the Influential Meeting Professionals International
 Convention Scheduled for July 11-14, 2009

By Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April. 21, 2009 -The Utah Office of Tourism is pitching in financially to help make this summer's influential Meeting Professionals International (MPI) convention a success.

On Friday, the agency's Board of Tourism Development allocated $225,000 to work with the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau on developing marketing opportunities for MPI's World Education Congress, which will be held July 11-14 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

"It's a very important meeting for Utah. It's like the Olympics of meeting planners," said Utah Office of Tourism spokeswoman Tracie Cayford of MPI, which brings together the people who schedule and organize conventions for thousands of trade organizations that meet annually.

MPI has 24,000 members in 70 chapters and clubs worldwide.

"There are meeting facilities all over the state, so there are huge implications for our partners from St. George to Logan," Cayford added. "Some MPI people might not be able to get out of Salt Lake City before or after the meeting, so we're going to bring an overview of the state to them."

Heidi Hughes and Michael Mack, who are overseeing planning for MPI for the Convention & Visitors Bureau, emphasized the potential rewards of a good performance in requesting funding support from the state agency.

"These meeting professionals -- and decision-makers in the meeting, convention and exhibition industry -- collectively account for more than $14 billion spent on meetings annually," they said in an application for funding from the Tourism Development board's special opportunity account.

State money will be spent on advertising, online marketing and printed materials designed to entice more MPI members to attend the weeklong event. In addition, the Office of Tourism and its local partners will develop sales presentations and help sponsor an opening-night event.

Cayford noted that this is the second year the Board of Tourism Development has contributed financially to the courtship of MPI. It spent $250,000 a year ago to promote Utah as the next convention location during the closing luncheon in Las Vegas.

The board also approved a pair of $20,000 appropriations, one for the Ogden Valley Balloon & Artist Festival Aug. 14-16 in Eden, the other for the Moab Music Festival, which runs Sept. 3-14.

Seeking matching state funds

June 25 is the deadline for local tourism groups to apply for some of the $1.4 million available from the Board of Tourism Development's cooperative marketing program.

With less money available because of the recession, the funding cap has been reduced from $250,000 per application to $175,000.

This year's kitty compared to $1.9 million in 2005-06, $1.6 million in 2006-07, $2.2 million in 2006-07 and $2.3 million in 2008-09.


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