Tourism up ten percent in 2007
Aug 30, 2007 | 6436 views | 0 0 comments | 1293 1293 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A strong tourist season is putting a smile on the faces of local businesses, with visitation to San Juan County up more than 10 percent in 2007. This was just one of a host of information items discussed by San Juan County Visitor Services director Charlie DeLorme at the June 25 meeting of the San Juan County Commission.

DeLorme said that exposure from the Red Bull Air Race in Monument Valley has been significant. He added that requests for information from the San Juan County website have increased from around 50 a day a year ago to 250 a day. The requests peaked at 2,185 the day after the Red Bull Air Race.

Within five days of the Red Bull Race, an estimated 18 million United States residents and 80 million people worldwide had viewed a clip of the air race.

In addition, Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and featured photography of the event in their publications.

Televised coverage of the actual race will be broadcast in August and will signify another round of worldwide exposure to San Juan County and Monument Valley.

In order to deal with the increased requests for information, the county has requested funding through the Utah Tourism Council to provide translation services on the county website.

In other matters, DeLorme stated that the effort to rebuild the swinging bridge near Bluff may take significantly more funding than previously thought, with some estimates totaling $300,000.

The bridge was constructed in 1957 and has been a popular site for nearly 50 years. It was destroyed during massive flooding on the San Juan River in October, 2006.

Before roads were improved in the area, the bridge was heavily used for many years by local residents. Visitors use the bridge to access 17-room Ruin on the south side of the San Juan River.

After the bridge was destroyed, local residents began a fund-raising effort to rebuild the structure. To date, $32,000 was raised in the effort. San Juan County Commissioners pledged an additional $20,000 at the June 25 meeting.

DeLorme said that a host of sources are being explored to fund the rebuilding effort, including the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Office of Tourism, and other private and corporate sources.

DeLorme said that significant engineering work will be required to rebuild the bridge. An engineering firm initially volunteered to donate the engineering work, but eventually determined that it did not have the expertise.

DeLorme said that there are only a handful of engineers who are licensed to work on the design of structures such as the swinging bridge. He said that what was once a common structure is now a novelty.

DeLorme added that for every $1 in construction costs in 1957, 2007 construction costs are estimated to be $7.31.

The Commission approved the appointment of Bubba Ketchersid to the Economic Development Advisory Council and of Susan Taylor to the Rural Conservation and Development Council.
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