Letter: Tourists lack respect; our corporations must stop enabling them
On Friday, I, like so many others, had the good fortune to head to Steamboat Springs for a day of skiing and sunshine. Between spring break and weekend crowds, competition for space and safety on the mountain added risks to the day that would have been avoidable if social distancing measures were enforced.
While other Ikon resorts are requiring reservations to manage capacity, Steamboat does not. According to their website, Steamboat Resort requires social distancing and mask wearing both indoors and outdoors, but these rules are rarely enforced. Just ask anyone who’s waited in a long, crowded lift line on a Saturday.
In the context of a pandemic, in which 6,149 people have died and 448,362 have been infected in Colorado, the disrespect in the air was palpable and indicative of a greater feeling that seems to have taken hold among tourists.
Steamboat is merely one destination among many in a moment of crisis, caught between the economic benefit and the social and environmental detriments brought by tourism.
All around us this year is the feeling of loss. Loss of lives and of life as we know it due to the pandemic but also the loss of life as locals knew it before the evolution of Steamboat into a resort town.
Visitors deserve the same rights to fair and free access to nature and recreation as locals do, but businesses must manage this travel in a way that is respectful to people and the planet. Overselling lift tickets at inflated prices and risking peoples’ safety is not a step toward this goal.
Business owners, such as those involved with Save Our Season, Stop our Spread, a group led by resort company owners, focus on encouraging locals to follow safety measures while actively bringing tourists into town who ignore them.
This pandemic is by no means the fault of locals over tourists and certainly not over the companies bringing them here unsafely. Yet locals are the ones who are most impacted by it. The fact is that we cannot stay safe without the compliance of Steamboat Resort, lodging companies and other wealthy part-timers who shape this place and then leave knowing they won’t have to live with the results.
Change will only come if our politicians, our votes and our voices speak truth to power and advocate for all who live here.
Abby Vander Graaff
Steamboat Springs local, Colorado State University student
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