Sweetwater County – Every two to three years Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism (SWCTT) commissions a lodging study to measure the segments occupying the local hotels and campgrounds. The study measures whether visitors are in the area for work purposes or on a leisure vacation. Wyoming state statute mandates that lodging tax dollars be spent by SWCTT on marketing efforts to promote visitation to the area. The marketing efforts deployed by SWCTT resulted in leisure visitation to the area increasing from 24% of the overall lodging occupancy in 2016 to 29% in 2018. This 5% increase in leisure occupancy has helped to offset the fluctuation in the lodging occupancy made up from the energy sector.
“Over the past 12 years we have continually fine-tuned our advertising efforts to ensure that our messaging is resonating with potential visitors and that our ads are placed in the best markets and through the most effective mediums to drive visitation to Sweetwater County,” said Jenissa Meredith, Executive Director of Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism. “We have seen the leisure occupancy segment as low as 15% in 2008, so for leisure visitation to make up almost 1/3 of the overall occupancy today is a huge success,” added Meredith. “Over half of the lodging occupancy in Sweetwater County is made up of workforce so we are only able to affect the leisure travel segment through our advertising – this 5% growth confirms the effectiveness of our efforts,” added Meredith.
In addition to the lodging study, SWCTT also commissions a conversion study each year to measure advertising effectiveness. The 2018 conversion study showed that the advertising placed by SWCTT in 2018 generated $8.2 million in travel spending. The average travel party size was 3.2 people, staying an average of 3.6 days in Sweetwater County. For every $1 of lodging tax that SWCTT spent to advertise to potential visitors, there was a return on investment to the local economy of $48. “We know that we are not always the final destination for visitors, but we are a valuable component to the overall road trip around the great state of Wyoming,” SWCTT fulfills almost 50,000 travel guide requests and drives over 80,000 new visitors to the website at www.tourwyoming.com every year.
Local lodging establishments are experiencing increased advanced bookings for 2019 as compared to 2018. Businesses in Sweetwater County will experience a busy Summer 2019 season with visitors from around the country and world coming to Wyoming. Over 56% of leisure visitors to Sweetwater County are on their way to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. “We often say that all roads lead to Yellowstone and we are happy to be on one of the most scenic and easily traveled routes,” added Meredith. Sweetwater County offers a variety of amenities and attractions to entertain and engage visitors to the area. SWCTT works to promote the natural wonders of the area and to highlight the recent accolades received locally by downtown Rock Springs and the Wilkins Peak Mountain Biking Trails outside of Green River. Additionally, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is one of our most popular and dependable tourism assets in Sweetwater County, therefore, SWCTT is working to build a tour around Flaming Gorge, which will draw additional visitors to the area and extend the stay of visitors traveling through this region on their way to the National Parks.