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Park City Pulse: Sustainability essential tool for healthy, clean tourism economy

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

This morning, many of us are in Vernal for the annual Utah Tourism Conference. It’s such an incredible place – one of the planet’s richest natural history sites.

Morgan Mingle, our Director of Sustainable Tourism, and I are proud and excited to address assembled tourism leaders today after publicly unveiling the completed Park City Sustainable Tourism Plan – a Utah first – to the Park City and Summit County councils yesterday. The Plan is the result of more than a year of assessment, research and public input representing the views of thousands of Parkites and visitors, as synthesized by our volunteer Stewardship Council. To us, sustainable tourism in Park City means achieving these seven objectives:

  1. Cultivating local pride and respect for the Park City / Summit County experience.
  2. Implementing sustainable infrastructure, management policies, and initiatives.
  3. Protecting and managing our natural environment to enable sustainable outdoor recreation.
  4. Ensuring the long-term resilience of the Park City / Summit County economy.
  5. Equalizing the economic benefits and burdens; mitigating impacts of the visitor economy.
  6. Leveraging messaging and programming to accelerate sustainable tourism.
  7. Fostering the development and management of Summit County’s art and culture tourism assets.

The Plan states, “In ten years, we envision a Park City and Summit County where robust outdoor recreation and a mountain-town lifestyle thrive, where friends gather and spirits soar in pristine natural surroundings, and where people live their values of inclusion, respect, and equity.”



This lofty vision has a practical side – each objective has specific initiatives reflecting community values. For example, Objective #4 calls for acknowledging a traditional community respite period after a busy winter. So, from mid-April to late May, we will focus on sustainable visitation at just 40-60 percent capacity. Objective #1 includes “locals only” experiences, such as discounts for signature events, and opportunities to share our pride, such as leading local history tours that unite locals and visitors. In Objective #3, we will grow regional relationships to expand our outdoor recreation space and coordinate its use, making (and keeping) our natural environment healthier.

Achieving these objectives involves broad community action, and the Plan engages practically every local organization. Objective #3 alone includes the Mountain Trails Foundation, Snyderville Basin Recreation, Summit County government, Park City Municipal, Park City Community Foundation, Utah Office of Tourism; the Forest Service and others.



I am proud and grateful for the work of our Stewardship Council, the Chamber/Bureau staff, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the Coraggio Group and the thousands of individuals who contributed their ideas, time and passion. The Plan is an expression of our community we can all support as representative and forward-thinking. View it for yourself at visitparkcity.com/sustainabletourismplan. Let me know which objective or initiative you get most excited about!

Later today, we will speak to tourism leaders in Vernal on how sustainability practices are becoming the essential tool for assuring a healthy, clean Utah tourism economy. The timing is critical as last year, tourism spending and visitation returned to and, in most places, surpassed 2019 levels. Tourism will unquestionably continue expanding its contribution to Utah’s economy and identity. The practical, responsible way to manage tourism’s challenges is finding a sustainable balance of economic needs, lifestyle expectations, environmental sensitivities and visitor requirements.Today, I can say that Park City has taken the first step in showing the way.

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