Several years ago I stood in front of the Grand County Council in support of a then council member who suggested a reallocation of Transient Room Tax (TRT) funds so that less would go to worldwide advertising and more to the unintended repercussions befalling city and county due to unparalleled numbers of tourists funneling into the valley.
That night I said it was like the “tail wagging the dog.” Nothing came of the suggestion because the local business owners rallied in support of maximizing TRT funds spent to entice tourists to come here. The councilman was strongly criticized.
In the ensuing years, the tail has gotten bigger and bigger and the dog’s been muzzled. And still we advertise. And build nightly accommodations for the unending stream of tourists.
If we don’t stem the crush of tourism, the increasing tidal wave of people and their toys certainly will:
• increase destruction to the land by movement further and further into the backcountry
• increase all forms of pollution in the valley
• increase the need for more low wage service positions
• increase the gap between service workers and the housing for them
• increase local citizen disputes about the future of neighborhoods, densities and whose rights should prevail
• increase the need for law enforcement, fire protection and emergency service personnel (and housing to entice them to Moab)
• increase the inconvenience around food because grocery shopping and restaurant experiences are becoming abominable for locals and visitors alike
• increase road rage by the enormous increase in traffic and decrease of parking options for locals and tourists alike
• increase the negative measures to manage skyrocketing attendance numbers at National and State and County Parks
I’m sure there are more reasons to put the brakes on tourist advertising. I am shocked at the housing numbers for visitors. My unofficial tally is 3,895 existing hotel rooms and nightly rental units, plus 541 new units in various stages in the Grand County Planning Department and another 595 units in Moab City Planning. And it is rare that there is one person per unit. Many units sleep between 6-10 people.
I plead with city and county representatives to slow things down now. Reassess what the valley needs to support the numbers that we have, locals (first) and visitors (second), as well as the already planned increase. We are in the midst of creating a monster of a dog that, if we don’t manage it better, will bite us savagely and in a few years. We will be saying, “If only we stopped the runaway tourist advertising and had taken a good hard look at maintaining the heart of our community while we had the chance.”
– Carol Mayer