Letter: We need fewer tourists, not destination management | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: We need fewer tourists, not destination management

It strikes me that after decades of destination marketing — advertising and selling Steamboat Springs to the world at large in order to increase tourism — the Steamboat Chamber is pivoting its marketing efforts to persuade the city, county, and residents of the Yampa Valley that it now intends to do “destination management.” This term implies that the Chamber and its partners will be able to lessen the negative effects of destination marketing and tourism on our community. Can bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to our valley by car and plane and then housing, entertaining and feeding them ever be a “sustainable” enterprise? The idea of directing the crowds to less crowded parts of the county via the Chamber website may not appeal to residents who try to find refuge in less visited places.

Destination management and sustainability sound good, but the best way to manage tourist impacts is to have less tourists. I doubt if that’s what the Chamber and the Ski Corp. intend to do with the results of the “destination management” study they are asking the city and county to fund.

I question if “destination management” is something the Chamber is even qualified to do. Should the city even be funding the Chamber? About 20 years ago the Chamber said it intended to become self-funded. Recently, former city council member Kathi Meyer asked if the Chamber didn’t want to be self-sufficient. A few months ago former City Councilman Jon Quinn pointed out that today one viral social media message can have more impact than thousands of dollars spent on marketing. Wouldn’t it make sense if the businesses that benefit directly from marketing were the ones who funded the Chamber?

Chamber staff has said, “We believe that sharing what makes our valley special with those who live near and far will help enhance our community.” They say they strive to “increase the quality of life for residents” and “make sure that the positive impacts of tourism outweigh the negative ones.”

Over decades the ongoing question related to marketing from residents has been “When is enough, enough?” I’d say that’s an indication that, contrary to the Chamber’s belief, they haven’t balanced the need for tourism with the needs of the community. Overcrowding, high home prices and degraded natural resources are the result of too many tourists.

Diane Brower

Steamboat Springs

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