January 7, 2009
Nerves are on edge, certainly, but local resort spokesmen and hoteliers are helping to put holiday numbers in perspective. Most acknowledge that visitor days were down over Christmas and New Year’s, and those who did come spent more conservatively. But they quickly remind us that previous years were record-setters and, overall, tourism in Summit County is still strong.
We are fortunate.
Utah entered the recession with a strong economy and, while other states began experiencing deficits more than a year ago, our state’s budget still has room for adjustments without defaulting on essential services.
Park City, too, has seen a steady increase in prosperity for over a decade. The downturn is just beginning to affect us and the bumps so far have been cushioned by careful planning, some well-timed snowstorms and smart marketing.
While city and county officials here are preparing for further cuts and homeowners are fretting about their property values, we are confident that our community is strong enough to withstand this setback. In fact, shedding some of the excesses of the boom years may be healthy. Slower growth may take some of the glitter off the bottom line, but ultimately it will be better for the environment, and for the quality of life that we hope to preserve.
The worst of the country’s economic crisis may be over before Summit County residents grasp the enormity of what is happening in other cities, towns and neighborhoods. In cities like Detroit, unemployment has already skyrocketed, businesses are closing and families who were living close to the poverty line have now fallen into despair.
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Granted, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how far the economy will fall before it turns around again. But we can look back at the lessons learned when the country went through hard times before. Viewed through the lens of history, we have learned that economic hardships can bring communities closer together, reaffirm citizens’ commitment to hard work, and encourage people and governments to reevaluate their priorities.