Park City Pulse: Making sustainable tourism a reality |

Park City Pulse: Making sustainable tourism a reality

Making sustainable tourism a reality

Jennifer Wesselhoff Park City Chamber/Bureau president and CEO
Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau. | Courtesy photo

As last week began, we were preparing to seek official recognition of the completed Sustainable Tourism Plan (STP) from the Park City and Summit County councils. Monday morning, dignitaries turned shovels of dirt for the groundbreaking of the High Valley Transit headquarters. Friday afternoon, our staff and board members partnered with Mountain Trails Foundation, Utah Open Lands and Park City Municipal to restore trails near the iconic Bloods Lake. It struck me as emblematic of how sustainable tourism will work in Park City: civic, nonprofit and government groups coming together to make a local sustainability statement with tourism implications.

HVT headquarters at U.S. 40 near Home Depot will feature a vast maintenance shop and admin center, a barn for 24 buses and fueling facilities and perhaps even employee housing. With HVT, visitors and residents get free, on-demand rides (micro transit) to fixed stations where eco-friendly buses bring us within walking or biking distance of our destinations, reducing traffic, particulate pollution and our carbon footprint. HVT also addresses our quality of life and visitor experience, two pillars of sustainable tourism, reducing the stress and cost of driving and finding parking spots for locals and visitors alike, making Park City more enjoyable for everyone. It is a sign of good sustainability policy that people love HVT, which racked up more than a million boardings in its first year-plus. It also aligns with Objective 2.5 of the new Sustainable Tourism Plan: undertake regional transportation plans and funding strategies, to wit: Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. John Curtis were on hand to acknowledge the $25 million federal contribution.

Having so many threads of sustainability policy gathering in one place augured well for the council meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, when the Park City and Summit County councils unanimously recognized the Sustainable Tourism Plan, acknowledging the public engagement that gives the Plan its authentic ring.

At no cost to the City or County, the STP provides direction for community and government groups to achieving its seven objectives. It complements Park City’s Vision 2020, which calls for sustainable tourism action, and the initiatives of Summit County’s Sustainability Office. Officials and staff of both governments served on the Stewardship Council that drafted the plan, helping the finished product dovetail with their sustainability mission.

For example, Vision 2020 states it is “essential for Park City to initiate a regional dialogue between resorts, local businesses, tourism operators and civic entities to build a long-term sustainable tourism approach.” That is as good a definition of the STP as any.

The Plan also responds to weaknesses identified by last year’s Global Sustainable Tourism Council assessment. For example, the GSTC found Park City needs to improve our visitor engagement, and STP Initiative 1.5 calls for a comprehensive visitor education program. In the area of cultural sustainability, GSTC recommends we communicate that our artifacts and historic sites are protected by law. STP Initiative 3.1 will leverage Chamber platforms to help visitors have a positive sustainability impact –  knowing and respecting our history among them.

From the Egyptian Theatre to the US Forest Service, from Recycle Utah to ski resorts and hotels, the sustainable tourism drive is an all-hands operation involving dozens of ready and willing local institutions. With the input of thousands and the support of our local elected leadership, the STP positions the community as never before to create the future we dream of, need, and deserve.  If you are interested in learning more, getting involved or providing input, visit and click on the comments or questions form. We look forward to hearing from you.


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