Travel Council produces visitor videos to lessen tourism impacts

By Nathaniel Smith • The Times-Independent

The Moab Area Travel Council is best known by locals for its advertising campaigns, but it’s also trying to mitigate the impacts caused by tourists, some of whom were perhaps drawn to canyon country by its ads. Currently, the Travel Council is producing a series of educational videos and an information brochure to encourage visitors to preserve, protect and take care of the natural resources that make Moab such an appealing destination.

Executive Director Elaine Gizler said the educational videos are the Travel Council’s way to help tourists prepare before their visit, though she also noted the videos may influence people to decide Moab “would be an amazing place to visit.”

Previous Travel Council productions include videos on biking, canyoneering, visiting during shoulder seasons, women mountain biking, the La Sal Mountains and Scenic Route 128 along the Colorado River. Earlier projects include creating the welcome video shown at the Moab Information Center and training videos for international travel agents around the globe. The latest video covers the topic of ATVs and UTVs.

While the professional cinematography and slick editing may make the video initially seem like an advertisement extolling the joys of riding a UTV on Moab’s many trails, it quickly dives into safety advice and guidelines for proper use of the vehicles. A significant portion of the video’s approximately four-and-a-half-minute runtime is dedicated to the use of UTVs on city streets rather than off-roading. Given the increasing prevalence of the recreational vehicles, Gizler said, “I believe this is one of the most important videos we could produce.” She added that the key messages the video seeks to impart are “stay on the trail” and how to be street legal. The video features Bureau of Land Management ranger Allison Kosakowski explaining why it is vital to only drive on designated routes, Moab Police Chief Jim Winder emphasizing the importance of respect, and several other interviews.

A partnership among the Travel Council, Sand Flats, the Moab Police Department and local outfitters such as Moab Cowboy, High Point Hummer, and Moab Tour Company made the video possible. It was posted to the Travel Council’s Discover Moab website on Monday, Aug. 20. Gizler said it soon will be spread through various social media outlets. She also noted that the Travel Council is “working to distribute this video in targeted areas, such as Colorado” because large numbers of ATVs and UTVs come to Moab from that state.

Moving forward, Gizler said the Travel Council has enough footage to create additional “public service educational films” in 2019 to air in local businesses and hotels. She added, “The next steps will be to work with the National Parks for areas that we want to target for educational purposes.”

In September, the Travel Council will publish a brochure tentatively being called the Moab Adventure Guide. It is the result of cooperation among the Travel Council, the BLM, the Forest Service, Grand County Search and Rescue, the Riparian Group and other organizations. It will encourage readers to donate to the Search and Rescue team, which is the busiest in the state.

Gizler mentioned the Travel Council is making an effort to incorporate the idea of “sustainable tourism” into its marketing, though specifics on that front will likely not come until later this year. It will also work with the City of Moab to promote the city’s initiatives to “make Moab a wonderful place to live and visit.”

“We hope the local community sees the value in the Travel Council producing these educational pieces,” said Gizler. She described how the Travel Council has kept the videos to a reasonable length, so people will be more likely to watch them in their entirety. The goal behind the video is for people “to find it engaging, interesting and educational so when they arrive in Moab they already know what is expected,” she said.