To the editor:

In your recent editorial on Utah tourism (May 17), you were correct in the assertion that there are many elements that attract visitors to our state. There is no question that tourism is a leading industry in Utah, and that it should be.What should not be overlooked, however, is the fact that much of the state's appeal to tourists, according to our surveys, is our historic environment.

While many come to marvel at Utah's natural wonders or to ski our excellent powder, many others come to see the legacy left by Utah's pioneers and the picturesque environment created by their descendants.

Chances are you don't take visiting friends and family to a convenience store, 7-11, strip mall, or office complex to give them an overview of your town (as you can find those in almost every American town, on nearly every street corner).

What you probably like to boast about is your community's historic train station, city hall, theater, hotel, church, or residential neighborhood of fine, older homes.

Unfortunately, while the number of preservation projects in Utah has increased over the years, so has the number of demolitions of our historic environment.

At the present rate of demolition, there will soon be little left of the historic ambiance which is so alluring to tourists and so vital to our own citizenry's self-understanding and sense of place. This fact is even more ironic in a state which so often declares its appreciation for heritage.

Take a moment to think of Salt Lake City in relation to London, Paris, or Rome. If these urban centers were striped of their historic buildings, how many people would flock there to visit, soak in the ambiance, and spend their tourist dollars?

Allen D. Roberts, Utah Advisor

National Trust for Historic Preservation

James W. McPherson III, Chair

Public Policies Committee

Utah Heritage Foundation