In my last piece, I introduced the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s assessment of Park City and Summit County, revealing how we scored in two of four sustainability categories. For six months beginning last July, the GSTC measured our region against dozens of sustainable tourism criteria with a holistic perspective — reviewing governance, economic benefits, cultural and heritage preservation, environmental performance, and more. The result is an overview of current good practices and areas we can improve.
After grouping indicators into four categories, the GSTC gives us an overall “good” score in Environmental Sustainability (12 indicators), seeing us as “excellent” in protecting the environment, energy conservation, water quality, wastewater management, and controlling light pollution.
In Destination Stewardship Management (11 indicators), we were rated “needs improvement.” This is no surprise since the need for a Sustainable Tourism Plan is why we asked for the GSTC’s assessment. Among the indicators in this category, they found us to be “excellent” in climate change adaptation and promotion/information for visitors, but note we need to improve in visitor engagement as well as monitoring visitor volume and activities.
Today, I’ll turn to the remaining two categories.
• Cultural sustainability: — Score: needs improvement
This was our lowest-rated category. We scored well in offering visitors cultural experiences (such as a wide variety of events), monitoring access to heritage sites, protecting or rehabbing natural and cultural areas, and collaborating to produce well-researched interpretive material. But we need improvement in several areas. We scored very low in listing our cultural assets and evaluating them for vulnerability, although the report notes that Park City has a plan to improve the downtown historic district. The GSTC suggests the county work with local organizations to document vulnerability at county-located cultural sites and monitor the impact of tourism.
Although our Summit County Heritage and Landmark Commission surveys and inventories significant sites and supports enforcing state laws, the report notes little evidence that we communicate these laws to visitors and recommends more assertive outreach.
The report also recommends highlighting intellectual property laws in our finished Sustainable Tourism Plan to call attention to their importance to tourism development. Copyright laws grant authors and artists exclusive rights to make and sell copies of their work and to their display or public performance. Clearly, our arts community is a critical element of Park City’s appeal and deserves this consideration.
• Socioeconomic sustainability — Score: good
This was our community’s highest-rated category, with the GSTC giving us a “good” score in 18 of the 30 indicators. We are rated “excellent” in providing skills training programs locally, helping local farmers and artisans participate in tourism’s benefits, providing financing and advice to small and medium-sized businesses, encouraging visitors to support local sustainability initiatives, measuring the economic impact of tourism, and practicing consultation, consent and compensation in property and user rights. We achieved “excellent” scores in all indicators related to accessibility.
The report recommends the tourism industry provide improved work and career opportunities and that industry players become signatories to compacts protecting children from sex trafficking in travel and tourism.
There is much more detail than we can explore here; I encourage you to read the GSTC report online at parkcitychamber.com. Share it with your colleagues and think about your reactions to their analysis.
Thanks to Dr. Kelly Bricker and her GSTC colleagues for their thorough, illuminating analysis. Their report and the 2,700-plus responses to our recent survey on tourism attitudes provide excellent data for starting the public conversation this year on a Park City/Summit County Sustainable Tourism Plan, a roadmap to assuring our hometown will be pristine and economically balanced for generations to come.