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Longtime Utah tourism director retires

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's longtime tourism director is retiring.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that Leigh von der Esch is stepping down after 28 years working for the Utah state government.

The number of annual visitors to Utah increased from 19 million to 22 million during her nearly eight years as state tourism director. Tourism-related jobs increased by 124,000 during her tenure.

Herbert credits von der Esch with bolstering Utah's tourism industry and promoting Utah's "Life Elevated" brand.

Prior to serving as tourism director, von der Esch spent 20 years as the Utah Film Commissioner.

Tourism deputy director David Williams will fill in as acting director until the position is filled.