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Correction: Kanab's Western Legends Round Up will be held next year from Aug. 20-23. Incorrect dates, provided on the American Bus Association's Web site, were listed in a story in the Money section in Thursday's Tribune.
For people who take bus tours, Kanab and Cedar City are two "must-stop" destinations next year.
The American Bus Association recently designated Kanab's Western Legends Round Up and Cedar City's Utah Shakespearean Festival as two of the top 100 Events in North America for 2008.
That type of accolade can make cash registers ring.
As the trade organization for more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour companies in the United States and Canada, the American Bus Association figures motorcoach groups spend $5,000 to $13,000 each night they stay at a destination.
"For years, bus groups have been discovering the Utah Shakespearean Festival as a great experience," said festival marketing director Kami Terry. "It is wonderful that the American Bus Association is helping us get the word out even more."
Added Ted Hallisey, executive director of the Kane County Office of Tourism & Film Commission: "This is a great destination. We are within an hour's drive of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell - with Kanab serving as a spoke in the wheel."
But what really caught the attention of the bus association was the Western Legends Round Up, which will take place next Aug. 28-30. The Round Up emphasizes Kanab's historic role as a hub for the making of more than 100 classic Western films, shot against the backdrop of the Kaiparowits Plateau and other desert landscapes.
"Western Legends celebrates this way of life with cowboy poetry, music, vendors and demonstrations," said Hallisey, known to most by his nickname, "Cowboy Ted."
Tour-bus groups will have two opportunities next year to hit the Utah Shakespearean Festival, which will run June 19-Aug. 30 and then again Sept. 19-Oct. 25. Terry was not surprised by the festival's appeal to bus groups.
"From classic Shakespeare to contemporary theater and even musicals, the festival has something to offer every group," she said. "Play orientations, play discussions and backstage tours complete the experience."
About 1 percent of out-of-state tourists arrive in Utah on tour buses, according to 2005 figures provided to the Utah Office of Tourism by research company D. K. Shiflett & Associates. That would amount to roughly 190,000 visitors.
But David Williams, the Tourism Office's assistant director of administration and research, said he thinks the Shiflett number is low, based only on domestic tour operators and not including numbers on foreign companies.
And as most Utahns know, southern Utah in particular is an attractive vacation spot for many Europeans and Asians.
Bob Syrett, an owner of Ruby's Inn outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, said his resort depends heavily on foreign visitors, most of whom arrive by bus.
"Tonight I'm booked solid. I don't have a room - and we have 368 rooms here at Ruby's Inn and 160 across the road at Bryce View Lodge. Most, if not all, of those tonight are international visitors," he noted.
"We get a tremendous amount of bus business in September."
Other Top 100 selections of regional interest are the National College Rodeo Finals next June 8-14 in Casper, Wyo., and the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest next June 16-21 in Weiser, Idaho.
The cast of the 2006 Utah Shakespearean Festival's "Macbeth," an 11-person touring production, takes a bow following a performance last year.