Tourism Analysis: Moab and San Juan Counties

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San Juan County, Utah: Visitor Demographics

San Juan County is called Utah's Canyon Country and attracts tourists both within and outside the U.S. The top visitor attraction within San Juan County, based on the number of visitors, is Glen Canyon Nataional Recreation Area which had 4,872,102 visitors in 2018. Many of our research findings pertain to visitors of Glen Canyon because that was the main location that demographic data was available for (likely due to its expansive visitor count).

Visitor Demographics

1. Where Visitors Come From

  • According to the 2018 Tourism Year In Review San Juan County, the county's recently narrowed target market includes Phoenix (Arizona), Denver (Colorado), and California.
  • San Juan County distributes its travel guide for marketing purposes in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • The top U.S. states that San Juan County distributes those travel guides in are California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Utah.
  • The top countries that the county distributes those travel guides in are the U.S., Canada, U.K., Italy, and Australia.
  • U.S. visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in spring 2007 came from 48 different states and that summer visitors came from 43 states.
  • Among 2007 visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the three states with the most visitors were Utah (20% of all visitors), Colorado (14% of all visitors), and Arizona (12% of all visitors).
  • Among spring 2007 visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, international visitors came from 19 different countries. Those visitors accounted for 13% of all spring visitors.
  • The four countries with the most visitors to Glen Canyon in spring 2007 were France (4% of all visitors), Germany (3% of all visitors), and both the Netherlands and Switzerland each accounted for 2% of all visitors.
  • Among summer 2007 visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, international visitors came from 23 different countries in spring. Those visitors accounted for 16% of all summer visitors.

2. The Survey

  • We found information about age, trip expenditures, group size, and educational group demographics of visitors to San Juan County from a comprehensive research study of visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (which we refer to below as Glen Canyon), which is located within the county.
  • Though that survey was conducted in 2007 by the University of Idaho, it contained the most-directly applicable data we could find about visitor demographics for San Juan County visitors, which is why we included it.
  • The survey findings were based on the results of 1,302 visitor groups that participated in the survey (two surveys were distributed, as one included 679 visitor groups and the other included 623 groups).
  • Many of the survey results are specific to spring visitors versus summer visitors, which show interesting differences in visitor demographics based on when those people visited San Juan County.

A. Age

  • For the age demographics included in this section, the numbers in parentheses represent the percentages for three age groups that comprise the 15-year increments we created. The research study reported visitor ages in five-year increments, but we grouped those findings together into 15-year increments. All the data is from 2007.
  • Among Glen Canyon National Recreation Area visitors in spring 2007, 6% were 15 or under (4% + 2%). In summer, that number increased to 21% (10% + 11%).
  • Among Glen Canyon visitors in spring, 12% were 16-30 years old (2% + 5% + 5%). In summer, that number increased to 21% (9% + 6% + 6%).
  • Among Glen Canyon visitors in spring, 16% were 31-45 years old (5% + 5% + 6%). In summer, that number increased to 23% (5% + 8% + 10%).
  • Among Glen Canyon visitors in spring, 36% were 46-60 years old (10% + 11% + 15%). In summer, that number declined to 26% (12% + 8% + 6%).
  • Among Glen Canyon visitors in spring, 29% were 61-75 years old (14% + 10% + 5%). In summer, that number declined to 11% (5% + 4% + 2%).
  • Among Glen Canyon visitors in spring, 2% were 76 years of age or older. In summer, that number declined to 1%.

B. Trip Expenditures (as a proxy for Income)

  • While we weren't able to find demographic data about income (explained below), we were able to find trip expenditures among visitors to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We included that data because it speaks to financial means of visitors.
  • On average, a visitor group spent $914 per person for their trip to Glen Canyon National Recreation in spring 2007, which includes their expenditures both outside and within the park. In summer, that average rose to $1,240 per person.
  • The median per-person expenditure was $435 in spring 2007, while the median in summer that year rose to $595.
  • In further regard to 2007 visitor expenditure data, "[t]he per capita expenditures were $339 per spring visitor and $223 per summer visitor."
  • The following are statistics of visitor groups' total expenditures for their trips to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in spring 2007, which include their expenditures both outside and within the park (amounts are per group): 57% of groups spent between $1 and $500; 25% spent between $501 and $1,000; 9% spent between $1,001 and $1,500; 3% spent between $1,501 and $2,000; and 7% spent more than $2,000.
  • The following are statistics from visitors' total expenditures for their trips to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in summer 2007 (amounts are per group): 45% spent between $1 and $500; 23% spent between $501 and $1,000; 9% spent between $1,001 and $1,500; 7% spent between $1,501 and $2,000; and 15% spent more than $2,000.

C. Group Size (as a proxy for Marital Status)

  • Among visitors to Glen Canyon Recreation Area in spring 2007, 62% had a group size of between two and three individuals. In summer, that number dropped nearly in half down to 32% of groups with between two and three individuals.
  • In spring 2007, 33% of visitors groups to Glen Canyon had at least four individuals within their group, while that number nearly doubled in summer to 66%.
  • Among spring 2007 visitor groups to Glen Canyon, 55% were families and in summer 53% were families.

D. Educational Group Visitors (as a proxy for Education)

  • Among visitors to Glen Canyon Recreation Area in spring 2007, 3% visited as part of an educational group.
  • In summer 2007, less than 1% of visitors to Glen Canyon Recreation Area visited as part of an educational group.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

After thorough research, we weren't able to find directly relevant information about visitor demographics for gender, income level, educational level, or marital status. However, for most of those demographics, we were able to find closely related demographics, so we included that information above as a proxy. With regard to the requested data points, we looked thoroughly for that information by using three different research methods. First, we reviewed San Juan County's website, but the information there was largely geared towards residents, not tourists (nor was it about tourists). Second, we looked for articles about San Juan County tourism and the visitors who travel there. To our surprise, we didn't find any articles about that topic or anything closely related to it. The only articles were destination-specific (e.g. about Glen Canyon National Recreation Area). However, in looking for those articles, we found one source that described San Juan County as Utah's Canyon Country. That insight led us to the website for Utah's Canyon Country, which turns out to be the visitor site for San Juan County. On that website, we found the San Juan County Visitors Guide 2019 and the 2018 Tourism Year in Review publications for San Juan County, which provided us with some relevant visitor demographics that are included above.

Despite finding those credible publications, we still needed to find information about the remaining data points (all except where visitors come from). Thus, our third research method involved narrowing the scope of our research to look for information about visitor demographics specific to the most-visited attraction in San Juan County: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We narrowed our research scope in that manner due to the lack of available information about those data points with regard to San Juan County overall. This narrowed research scope led us to a 2007 research study of visitors to Glen Canyon Recreation Area, which proved to be the best source we found throughout the entirety of our research. Some information from that comprehensive research study directly pertained to the data points requested, while other information was closely related to those data points requested. After conducting that extensive research and still not finding all the directly applicable visitor demographics, we decided it was necessary to include related visitor demographics as a proxy. Overall, we included all the relevant and related insights we found that pertained to the requested visitor demographics about visitors to San Juan County.
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Moab, Utah: Visitor Demographics

Moab, Utah is a popular destination that attracts a whopping three million visitors per year. In fact, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article earlier this year titled "Moab is drowning in tourists, and Utah is making Grand County spend millions a year to invite more."

Demographic Profile

1. Where Visitors Come From

  • According to the official visitor website for Moab, "[v]isitors from around the world come to the town of Moab."
  • Of those visitors from across the globe, "a large number of" them are international visitors, though the number of those visitors was not provided.
  • According to an article published by Moab Sun News in 2012, visitors from other parts of the U.S. "are still Moab's bread and butter, but Grand County is attracting an increasingly diverse and international group of travelers every year."
  • For reference, 30% of visitors to Arches National Park were international visitors back in 2003, which equated to 757,781 international visitors.
  • A 2019 article published by the Times-Independent found that international visitors to Moab spend more money than U.S. visitors.

2. Survey Introduction

  • We found a report that included directly applicable visitor demographic information from a survey of mountain bikers who biked Moab's world-renowned Slickrock trail.
  • That report was published by Headwaters Economics.
  • Though the information from that survey is from 2002, we included those findings because (1) it is directly applicable to the visitor demographic profile information requested for Moab and (2) it was by far the best data that we found throughout the entirety of our detailed research.
  • Before delving into those survey results, it's worth noting that 98% of the mountain bikers surveyed do not live in the Moab area, so we thus categorized the survey findings as applying to visitors.

3. Survey Results (Age, Gender, Income, Education, & Employment)

  • The first finding from the aforementioned survey pertained to income and revealed that $42,000 was the average annual household income among the participants.
  • In further regard to income, the mode household income (the income value cited the most among participants) was $80,000 annually.
  • With regard to education level, the survey found that 86% of those surveyed were college graduates.
  • In further regard to education level, 13% of the people reported that they were students.
  • With regard to gender, 79% of those surveyed were men.
  • In terms of age, the survey found that the majority of the survey participants (67%) were 21-35 years old. Though 35 was listed as the endpoint of that age range, it was secondarily noted that "20% were over 34" years old.
  • Since couldn't find any information about marital status whatsoever, we included a substitute demographic profile statistic (employment) which revealed that 41% of those surveyed reported that they "worked in professional occupations."
  • Though the aforementioned statistics pertain to mountain bikers in Moab, the findings are directly relevant to Moab visitors because "Slickrock is perhaps the most popular mountain bike trail in the world, boasting over 100,000 visitors per year."
  • The aforementioned findings from that survey were published in a research paper from Headwaters Economics titled "The Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah" which was published in 2011. Though we found a 2015 update to that research paper, the same survey results from 2002 were included, so the data we cited above was the most-recent data we could find from that source.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

The only requested data point that we couldn't find any information about whatsoever was the marital status of visitors to Moab, Utah. We looked for that information by using three different research methods. First, we reviewed numerous articles about Moab tourism and the visitors who travel there. Those articles tended to focus on the uptick in the number of visitors to Moab and the economic impacts of tourism in the area. Thus, no information about visitors' marital status was included therein. An example of a source that we consulted in looking for any such articles was the Salt Lake Tribune. For our second strategy, we looked for data/survey results published in reports about tourism in and around Moab. We were able to find a report published by Headwaters Economics, which included the survey results cited above. Those survey results directly pertained to Moab visitors and included all the requested data points, except for marital status.

As a third research method, we expanded the scope of our research to look for information about visitors to the National Parks in Moab (Canyonlands and Arches) and were specifically looking for information about visitor demographics. The only information that method yielded stated the number of visitors to those parks, generic information noting that visitors come to those parks from across the U.S. and worldwide, and economic benefits to the area resulting from such tourism. An example of such an article we reviewed was published by the National Park Service in 2017 about tourism in Canyonlands and Arches. However, none of the demographic data points we were looking for, including marital status, were included in that article nor in any of the others that we reviewed.
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Digital Marketing Tactics: San Juan County, Utah

Utah's Canyon County Website and website redesign/logo update, use of earned media, and social media marketing are some recent digital marketing tactics San Juan County, Utah uses to promote tourism. The tactics are elaborated in detail in the following section, along with a research methodology detailing their uncovering.




  • San Juan County continues to pursue social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • In 2018, it had 6,868 followers on Facebook and generated 1,469,526 impressions, marking a 103% increase and 187% increase, respectfully. It also elicited 23,778 engagements highlighting a 185% increase from 2017. As of October 2019, the county had 9,500 followers and 2,471 check-ins.
  • On Twitter, the county generated 29,213 impressions. It currently has 455 Twitter followers.
  • Equally, in 2018, San Juan County Instagram account generated 105,931 impressions marking a 7.6% increase from the previous year. As of October 2019, the county's Instagram followers reached 3,770 followers.
  • Across these social media platforms, the county promotes its main attraction sites using imagery and content, often describing the positive attributes of the scenery. The county shares these attractions on its social media platforms.



A report dubbed, '2018 Tourism Year in Review, San Juan County detailed the marketing tactics, both digital and print that the county uses to promote tourism. External searches conducted on social media sites sough to retrieve the current likes and followers the county has currently, to reflect how the figures have changed compared to when the report was published. Overall, all findings are precompiled in the '2018 Tourism Year in Review,' San Juan County report published on its marketing and promotional website, Utah's Canyon County.
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Digital Marketing Tactics: Moab, Utah

Sustainability-themed advertising strategy, one video for five partner agencies with different visions and needs, tourist-tailored messaging are three digital marketing tactics used to promote tourism in Moab, Utah.

1. Sustainability-themed advertising strategy

  • The Moab Area Travel Council (Moab) in collaboration with AOR Love Communications introduced the "Do It Like a Local" campaign to educate tourists on protecting the local resources. The organization considers this to be "a first-of-its-kind initiative" to shift the focus of destination advertising from attracting tourists to education them.
  • The messaging of this campaign offers advice and tips to develop tourists into informed and sustainable visitors. The campaign's dedicated platform provides six tips for Moab's different recreational attractions such as carrying out the trash and wearing the right shoes. The campaign's website provides essential tips from locals on various recreational activities along with the do's and dont's. The "Do It Like a Local" campaign will partner with various travel industry brands to further benefit Moab's community.
  • The campaign's media strategy includes local articles on Adara and Trip Advisor along with video and display intercept ads. While the campaign is in its early stages, it has already garnered 391 followers on its Facebook page.

2. One video to combine five partner agencies with different visions and needs

  • This strategy was developed to provide the visitors with an orientation on the various sites and activities in Moab, Utah. A trailer was created for a multi-agency visitor center's 4K theater to highlight the local communities and recreational activities of Moab.
  • The 15-minute trailer highlights the messages of the partner agencies — Moab Area Travel Council, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Canyonlands Natural History Association. The messaging ranges from promoting safety and conservation within the local parks to attracting more tourists and filling hotels.
  • These five agencies partnered with Finley Holiday Production to create an exciting theater film to showcase the number of activities present in the area and help people decide on what to do. The film also includes an inspiring message on the conservation of local resources.
  • The video was presented in the visitor center and each of the partnering agencies' social media pages. As a result, the video received over 88 thousand views in just two weeks.

3. Tourist-tailored messaging strategy on digital

  • The messaging of this campaign is centered on the needs of the travelers and on what Utah can offer them.
  • The campaign is focused on Utah's iconic landscape and landmarks, national parks, the snow, and travelers having an unforgettable vacation. The campaign was designed as a multi-platform, year-round campaign that includes TV, out-of-home, branded and digital content, and social media marketing.
  • The result of this campaign shows $1.96 billion in tourist spending that attributed to the "Mighty 5 Campaign", 73% increase in travels, and a $338 return-on-investment for every $1 spent on marketing.
  • An example of a TV advertisement for this campaign is the "Discover Moab: Break Away".

Research Strategy:

To obtain the digital marketing tactics used by Moab, we looked for travel-related ads marketing/campaign case studies specific to Moan, Utah. The case studies found provided the success metrics and the platforms used for each advertising campaign. We then individually researched each case study to understand their approach and mission to promote tourism.
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Top Visitor Attractions: San Juan County, Utah

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Goosenecks State Park, and Edge of the Cedars State Park are the seven leading attractions in San Juan County based on the total number of visitors in 2018. Six of the attraction sites are expounded in the following sections.





  • The Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a rare natural bridge that has inspired people for centuries. For instance, some American Indian tribes who inhabit the surrounding areas consider that monument a sacred place.
  • A link to the homepage of the website is provided here.
  • Utah’s Canyon Country 2018 annual report indicates that the monument attracted a total of 108,418 visitors.
  • Consumer reviews on Google and TripAdvisor regarding the monument indicate that besides the size and beauty of the monument, the hike to this place is worth an attempt.


  • Natural Bridges National Monument showcases the power of water in a landscape, often characterized by its absence. The bridges are named in honor of the ancestral Puebloans, "Kachina, Owachomo and "Sipapu."
  • Natural Bridges National Monument attracted 98,255 visitors in 2018. A link to the homepage of the website is provided here.
  • Based on Google and TripAdvisor reviews, trailing, hiking, and enjoying the beautiful sceneries are the major things that attract most visitors to this area.


  • Hovenweep National Monument provides a reflection of six prehistoric villages dated around A.D. 1200 and 1300. These structures include multistory towers perched on canyon rings and supported by boulders.
  • A link to the homepage of the Hovenweep National Monument website is provided here.
  • According to San Juan County 2018 tourism report, Hovenweep National Monument attracted 38,751 individuals.
  • Consumer reviews on Google and TripAdvisor indicate that the history of this place and its magnificent scenery as the main things they like when sightseeing around this monument.



Utah’s Canyon Country 2018 annual report, the official marketing website for the San Juan County tourism department provided a list of the most visited areas in 2018. The sites reported in the annual report are analyzed above. Additional searches were conducted on each site's website to uncover details about it that visitors come to see. Other searches conducted on TripAdvisor reviews and those posted on Google helped to identify features or activities that people like about these attractions. Note that an analysis of the top six attraction sites by visitation in San Juan County is profiled above, while the seventh-most visited site is indicated along with its 2018 number of visitors, but no in-depth analysis of the site is included. Overall, all information regarding the top six sites by visitation is directly available from Utah’s Canyon Country.
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Top Visitor Attractions: Moab, Utah

Moab is a city in Utah that gets 3 million visitors a year. The top 6 visitor attractions in Moab, UT are Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point, Hell's Revenge, Slickrock Trail, and Colorado River.


What people like


  • Description: Canyonlands is a primitive desert national park in Utah that is known for its canyons and buttes. There are four districts that are divided by its rivers: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers. This place allows for camping, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
  • Number of visitors annually: 739,449 visitors annually.

What people like


What people like


What people like


What people like


  • Description: The Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River is a top attraction in Moab. It is known for its river trips by way of canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. There are many river areas which can provide a part-day, one-day, or multi-day trip event.
  • Number of visitors annually: 77,000 visitors per year.

What people like


To find the top attractions, the first strategy we used was to do a straightforward search for a list of top attractions in Utah. Even though this was not successful, we found the official website of Utah which had the top attractions in Moab, Utah. With that, we looked through each entry individually, and searched for their visitation statistics. We looked for the most recent statistics through different websites, park reports, and news articles. Even though we found all the most recent stats, we had to get a bit creative for Hell's Revenge and Colorado River.

We didn't find statistics for Hell's Revenge alone, however, we did find statistics for Sand Flats, which Hell's Revenge is a part of. Based on the news article in which we found the stats, we decided to use the Sand Flat's visitation number for Hell's Revenge. According to the article, Hell's Revenge is the one that brings the most visitors to Sand Flats, and is in the top four for most visitations in Moab apart from Arches National Park, Canyonland, and Dead Horse Point. We got creative with Colorado River because it shares real estate with other states. Hence, we found the point of the Colorado River that is an attraction in Moab, which we found to be Fisher Towers. The most recent statistics for Fisher Towers was from based on statistics gathered in 2011, however, we decided to use it because we realized that the rest of the entrants on the article for top sites in Moab either had more than 100,000 visitors, or less than 50,000. Because of this wide gap, we believed that Fisher Towers' should be around the same spot with its 77,000 visitors.

We used each attraction's website for information, and used Tripadvisor to get what people like about the attraction. We used the top comments from the Tripadvisor page, and also the section "What travelers are saying", which usually shows top comments that have common themes towards them.

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