Pandora’s box has been opened

Editor,

Regarding the recent articles in the paper about the activities of the Travel Council, they seem surprised about the negative comments and complaints about the ever-increasing impacts of tourism. The Travel Council wants to show people the benefits of tourism. Granted, it does have its very large economic benefits, but how do increasing amounts of traffic and congestion, long lines, higher costs, and more crime benefit the locals?

How does one explain the benefits of a tourist economy to someone who has to work two jobs to barely get by but still cannot even find a place to live? And is dealing with increased noise, illegal camping and overnight rentals a benefit to our neighborhoods?

Advertising to bring in ever more tourists when we can barely handle all the current issues seems irresponsible, and is a hard sell when people are frustrated, angry and fed up with what is happening. And then there is the fear – about what is happening, about losing our way of life, losing what makes Moab special, and fear about the damage being done to the very thing that so many come here to experience – our beautiful, but fragile, environment.

I don’t know how the Travel Council comes up with their decisions, such as making Moab a year-round destination, or deciding to do massive advertising, not only in Denver, but now the LA basin. But it is easy to feel like local voices are not being listened to in these most important decisions that will affect the future of everyone here.

Increased transparency and regular, direct communication with locals could go a long way to helping us understand just what it is you do, and why. Why not schedule regular “town hall” meetings to answer questions, update information and explain what you are doing. It is crucial to actively seek input from locals on how to responsibly grow our economy while managing tourism issues, rather than have it seem like the Travel Council is making these decisions on their own.

What about taking a “whole town, across-the-board” survey, like UDOT is doing for downtown, to guide future decisions based on what the people who live here want to see.

I’d also like to know who the Travel Council answers to–is it under the supervision of a higher local entity? Is there accountability to the Moab City and Grand County councils, or is everything done according to mandates from Salt Lake City?

And what about the idea posited that we use Travel Council funds to educate tourists and mitigate all the impacts? That seems like a great idea.

Pandora’s box has been opened–so we need creative, responsible, educated and wise decisions to be made, together, for our future.

–Patrice Mott

Moab