Do you feel people ask our opinion more frequently these days, about everything from customer service to doctor visits? I sure do. Surveys seem to be everywhere now. But rarely can we weigh in on something as consequential as the future of tourism in Park City. I'll bet, like most of us, you have some thoughts, and hopefully, you were one of the 2,600+ people who responded to our Sustainable Tourism survey in January this year.
The Chamber/Bureau has been scientifically researching tourism-related issues since last summer as we prepare Park City's first Sustainable Tourism Plan, a vision and a roadmap for our tourism future.
We’ve been asking what does sustainable tourism mean to you? How does tourism impact you? What about our air quality and open space? Do you feel those are well protected or threatened by visitation? What changes should we start making right now so that our open-handed, mountain-town lifestyle endures through our lifetimes and for generations to come?
The finished Plan will lay out specific tactics for tourism management along with responsible parties and timelines, all informed by your insights.
What have we learned so far? The 2021 Global Sustainable Tourism Council assessment found we do well in some areas (protecting sensitive environments, climate change adaptation) and not so well in others (visitor management and engagement).
The Coraggio Group spent six months conducting interviews, evaluating survey data and researching government documents. Their research-based findings, released in March, are candid and provocative:
- Degradation of Summit County's natural assets is a looming threat.
- Park City's residents are approaching a breaking point from overtourism.
- Tourism and population growth are testing Park City's infrastructure capacity.
- The community of Park City is about to lose itself to the destination of Park City.
- Park City needs more stewardship, not more promotion.
- Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau staff and Board are prepared to take on these challenges.
- There is a shared vision and desire to achieve a more sustainable tomorrow.
How do these strike you? Get ready to share your reactions.
Tomorrow, April 21, the 22-person Stewardship Council crafting the Plan will open the floor in an online public hearing from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Council represents all angles of PC tourism, from housing and recycling advocates to the Forest Service, at-large citizens, the Community Foundation, resorts, restaurants, the arts community, the Mountain Trails Foundation, and others. Tomorrow’s event is on Zoom. You will find the easy-to-use link at visitparkcity.com/members.
You will have another opportunity on April 27 from 6:00– 8:00 p.m., this time in person at Santy Auditorium, 12555 Park Ave. No need to make a reservation. Just bring your thoughts and a positive neighborly attitude.
I am looking forward to hearing what you think and what policies the Sustainable Tourism Plan should embrace. To help prime your pump, we have posted the Coraggio Group Situation Assessment and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Destination Assessment online at visitparkcity.com/members. Both are easy to read and packed with research-supported insights. I encourage you to review them for yourself – they include the surveyed opinion of thousands of residents – and see where you agree and disagree. Then join us tomorrow online and at Santy Auditorium on April 27. Keep checking online or with this column for updates as we aim for a finished product by year's end. You will be glad you had your say!