During the past two years, more and more emphasis has been placed on tourism and recreation within the state. It makes sense. It is a profitable enterprise that promotes and maintains a clean environment.
In addition to the many natural attractions in the state, local festivals and activities promote tourism. Cedar City has its Shakespeare Festival, St. George has it marathon, Moab has its Fat Tire Festival, Salt Lake has its Arts Festival and its sports franchises and now it and associated cities are vying for the Winter Olympics. Park City has its Art Festival and Vernal its dinosaurs and so on throughout the state.I remember 20 or so years ago there was a sense of distrust and dislike among some of the southern Utah residents and many of the environmental patrons of the National Parks and wilderness areas. Perhaps these attitudes are changing and there is an interest in attracting the bikers, backpackers, boaters or casual sightseers that are now flocking to these primitive areas. These cities are now recognizing the value of the tourist and are aggressive about luring visitors to their environs.
I've been in Moab twice during the past six months, the first time with friends and the second time with family. Each time we stayed in a local motel, paid entry fees to various activities, dined in restaurants, shopped at grocery stores and tanked up the car two or three times.
In October, it was for the Fat Tire Festival, and the local motelier indicated that the festival wasn't that big of a deal because bikers aren't big spenders. Perhaps, but a few hundred bikers had to make a reasonable contribution to the city enterprises during their four-day festivity. Last weekend, the family went to Moab to hike in Arches and Canyonlands. We ended up spending a few hundred dollars there before we left, and I was very impressed with the fact that there were many out-of-town visitors doing the same thing.
Moab as well as other small cities must be enjoying some benefits from the tourist trade.
Each time I go to Boulder or to Escalante, I wonder why the local folks haven't developed activities to attract more tourists to their cities. I believe the opportunity is there, if there is interest in that kind of business.
This clean enterprise is primarily put together on a volunteer basis, brings people into the city to spend money on the program, the overnight accommodations, the restaurants and on and on. The wonderful aspect of Utah is a varied and exceptional environment that has immense potential.
I've spent a reasonable part of my weekends touring some of these environments, and I can't help but think that there is more - much more that would be of interest to the public. I offer a few suggestions:
- Dead Horse Point hang-gliding festival - Moab
- Canyonlands hot-air balloon festival - Moab
- Boulder Mountain bicycle road race - Torey, Teasdale, Boulder
- Burr Trail mountain bike road race - Escalante
- Bryce Canyon cross-country ski festival - Panguitch, Tropic.
There are many other opportunities and I'm interested in suggestions from folks who think that Utah has more to offer the world than we have been giving it.
Joe Rutherford, public relations director for the Utah Travel Council, told me that Utah had approximately 12 million tourists, native and out-of-state, who visited and enjoyed our remarkable environments during 1987-88. He went on to say that they spent approximately two billion dollars - that's big business.