Vicki Varela Retiring After 11 Years of Unparalleled Prosperity,
Natalie Randall
to Assume Leadership

SALT LAKE CITY (JAN. 23, 2024) — After more than a decade of unparalleled prosperity, the Utah Office of Tourism and Film is transitioning leadership. Vicki Varela will retire from her role as managing director of the office on Feb. 10, and Natalie Randall will assume leadership on Feb. 12.

The transition was announced by Ryan Starks, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. Starks made the decision in consultation with Governor Spencer J. Cox, the Utah Board of Tourism Development and the Utah Tourism Industry Association Board.

Gov. Cox expressed his confidence in the trajectory of the tourism economy.

“Utah’s visitor economy has thrived under Vicki’s leadership,” Gov. Cox said. “Natalie has the vision and drive to take everything to the next level, creating quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

Key accomplishments of the Utah Office of Tourism team during Varela’s service include:

  • Launching the Mighty Five campaign, which established Utah as a global tourism destination.
  • Establishing the Red Emerald Strategic Plan to create a perpetual high-quality visitor economy. The focus is on high-quality visitation, distributed across seasons and destinations.
  • Leading the nation to create a model for keeping national parks open during government shutdowns.
  • Enlisting U.S. Travel, the national tourism industry association, to advocate for national park investment, as well as breaking down bureaucratic barriers that impair the quality of visitor experiences at national parks.
  • Establishing a destination development strategy that enables local communities to create the visitor economy that works best for their region.
  • Overseeing a cooperative marketing process that has distributed millions of dollars to local communities to market consistent with their regional priorities.

The new Managing Director, Natalie Randall, is in a position of strength to lead the Utah Office of Tourism, according to Starks.

“Natalie’s experience in destination marketing and management, along with her proven ability to navigate complex policy issues, makes her uniquely qualified to assume this role,” Starks said. “She will also play a vital role on our executive leadership team to advance the nation’s best economy and quality of life.”

Rural communities play a vital role in Utah’s visitor economy. The Utah Office of Tourism strives to instill responsible tourism stewardship while also strengthening the state’s economy. A focus on rural communities—notably through film production in Utah’s picturesque landscapes—has been a highlight of the office and partners at the Utah Film Commission.

Randall comes to the role from the Utah Tourism Industry Association, where she has been executive director since 2021. She has also served as vice chair of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, Utah Board of Tourism Development, Rural Opportunity Advisory Committee, and State Workforce Development Board.

Before joining UTIA, Randall served as the Executive Director of Economic Development and Tourism in San Juan County. She played a key role in further establishing and promoting the county’s tourism brand, known internationally as Utah’s Canyon Country. The brand redevelopment also encompassed complex public land discussions, fostering business investments, and addressing community sentiment. In concert, she advocated for the local business community, spearheaded significant infrastructure investments, and promoted collaboration among the diverse populations in the largest county in Utah.

Randall is honored to accept the responsibility.

“I’m inspired by the momentum we have created as an industry. Tourism is a significant piece to Utah’s economy and represents the pride we have of our communities throughout the state,” Randall said. “Our distinctive landscapes and unique offerings are why people choose to live, work, and play here. I’m thrilled and deeply honored to have been chosen to continue carrying this message.”