The Coraggio Group has identified seven Park City themes in their just-finished Tourism Situation Assessment that are refreshingly realistic if challenging. Culled from mountains of survey data on our tourism economy and local sentiment, I feel they resonate with our lived experience.
- The degradation of Summit County's key natural assets is a looming threat.
- Park City's residents are approaching a breaking point from overtourism.
- 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 engaged and prepared to take on these challenges.
- Current and future tourism levels and community population growth are testing Park City's infrastructure capacity.
- There is a shared vision and desire to achieve a more sustainable tomorrow.
That last one – which says much about our community character – will be critical in helping us navigate toward a sustainable tourism future.
We selected Coraggio for their research expertise and their Utah experience. When the Utah Office of Tourism's pre-COVID Mighty Five strategy brought a flood of visitors, many communities needed advice. Coraggio's comprehensive Situation Assessment became the statewide foundation for attracting quality visitation.
They have performed a similar assessment for us.
They drew their seven themes from our Global Sustainable Tourism Council Assessment, the 2,600+ responses to our online surveys, analysis of hundreds of documents, talks with local leaders, and focus-group research.
I think they got it right.
What do we do with this information? It represents a framework for fleshing out a Park City Sustainable Tourism Plan, a vision and roadmap for Park City/Summit County tourism. The words "Sustainable Tourism" say it all – the Plan will respond to our challenges (such as those Coraggio has identified) with specific, time-sensitive goals and assign community "responsible parties."
The 22-person Stewardship Council charged with crafting it represents all angles of our tourism picture: housing and recycling advocates, the Forest Service, staff and elected officials from local government, at-large citizens, the Community Foundation, resorts, restaurants, the arts community and the Mountain Trails Foundation. It has already scheduled an opportunity for your input to enhance the 2,600 voices already heard through our surveys.
What are your thoughts on overtourism, threats to our environment and community character? How do we sustain a tourism-based economy without being overrun? What does 'stewardship' mean to you?
The Coraggio report can stimulate your thinking and inform your opinions. For example, you will learn that 90% of 2020 online travel searches were for smaller, outdoorsy destinations like ours as people sought wide open spaces, a trend that continues; trail congestion, traffic jams, and crowded restaurants are common in places like Moab, Mammoth Lakes, and Sedona; some destinations are reducing advertising to reduce visitation with decidedly mixed results, and messages about respectful outdoor recreation (as opposed to luring visitors) are becoming more common. Finally, did you know that Millennials and GenZers make up 51% of the US population? They travel for experience rather than sightseeing and, most importantly, are environmentally aware and ready to act responsibly with the right guidance.
These are just a handful of the report's insights. Fascinating, readable, and now online at ParkCityChamber.com/SustainableTourismPlan, it can help us have better-informed conversations as we move forward together.
I'm excited to be sharing their insights and I hope you will join us at the Stewardship Council public input meetings on April 21, noon - 1:00 pm via Zoom, and April 27, 6:00 - 8:00 pm in person at Santy Auditorium. I look forward to seeing – and hearing – you there.