For a few days, the world spotlight fell on south central Utah as the Tour of Utah passed through Garfield, Wayne, Sevier and Sanpete counties Aug. 2 and 3.
“It’s a fun event to have here,” said Kevin Arrington, Sevier County tourism director. He said the tour is something that is supported by Utah’s offices of tourism and economic development, as well as Gov. Gary Herbert.
“It’s a next level type of event,” Arrington said. He said the tour gives the region invaluable exposure on the Fox Sports Network to an international audience.
In order to host a race start, Sevier County had to pay $7,500. The money came from the county’s transient room tax, which legally has to be spent on expenses tied to tourism and promotion of the county, Arrington said.
“The exposure is worth that to us,” Arrington said. He said the $7,500 was used by the TOU to offset its costs while in the county.
“They do book just about every room in the county the night they are here,” Arrington said. Richfield City also provided in-kind contributions with its city staff and police department, Arrington said.
For Wayne County, the opportunity to host the event has been a boon to the region, said Nycole Durfey, Wayne County Office of Tourism director.
“The international exposure is absolutely priceless,” Durfey said. “The Tour of Utah was in our area with continual TV coverage for more than two hours.”
The tour’s second stage finished in Torrey after beginning in Escalante in Garfield County. Riders tackled the climb and curves of State Route 12, a recognized scenic byway.
In addition to the airtime on television, Durfey said in 2015, Wayne County benefited from the following tour related internet activity —
• More than 282,000 website sessions
• 1 million webpage views
• 159 countries visiting the tour website
• 89 percent increase in mobile sessions
• More than 2 million Facebook impressions
• 95 countries with social media mentions
• More than 20,000 social media engagements
• 190,000 hours of Tour Tracker delivered to 139 countries
“I would assume this year the coverage was at least that if not more,” Durfey said. “The Tour of Utah has really helped put Wayne County/Capitol Reef Country on the map.”
She said the county paid for hotel rooms for TOU crew members the night before the finish was hosted in Torrey. The final costs to the county will be determined once all the invoices from the TOU are turned in, Durfey said.
“It is hard to anticipate how the TOU impacted the communities,” Durfey said. “In my honest opinion, the national and international coverage we have received due to the TOU coming through our area three out of the last four years is something we will benefit from for years to come.”