I believe this is my second letter to you in 26 years as a Moab resident. Normally, I’m good to tune-out the emotional hyperbole of the day and try to choose my battles carefully.
I was a member of the Moab Area Travel Council for eight years, serving as chairman of the marketing committee for most of that time. I was also on the Utah Office of Tourism Board serving as board vice chairman and chairman of the marketing committee for the state. During that time, we were charged by the legislature to help develop tourism as a viable industry for Utah. It’s a long story for another day, but I’m proud to say I was chairman of the committee that launched the national award-winning Mighty 5 Campaign and during my time on the Utah board I made sure that Moab got its name out in a positive way. So, blame me if you want, or if you’re doing good, maybe give some credit.
I know about and have been a part of the successful tourism growth in Utah and Moab. So when the negative, often incorrect, emotional dialog directed at those of us doing our job to turn the depressed Moab economy around reaches the horrific low of comparing us to Nazis, I say, really? Nazis? Nazis were the ones who exterminated millions of innocent people, and we’re being compared to them? B——t!
During my time on the Moab tourism board, I served with Sarah Sidwell and while we didn’t always agree, I never knew her to be so mean-spirited. She was a pretty low-key member working on her various assignments. I’ve read her apologies, and I’m sure she’s sorry for what she said, but she said it and she’s responsible for the insult and hurt to Elaine and the insulted dark shadow cast over all of us in tourism, including me. She still owes an apology to all of us working in tourism.
The point I’m getting around to is that I believe Sarah’s comments were made partly because she was emboldened by the “Me Too” type mentality that’s going on right now by a few anti-tourism folks, maybe even showing off for her supporters. She admitted to Elaine she did it for shock value. It’s become popular by a few to claim victimization of our prosperity with little respect for the hard work, thousands of volunteer hours and diligent persistence it’s taken to turn our community’s economy around.
Even our city and county leaders are joining in on the criticism, while in my own opinion doing very little to accommodate and take advantage of the prosperity.
I believe our leaders should be outraged that citizens are allowed and encouraged to take their tirades out on some of the most productive members of their team. It’s hard to work for a boss that doesn’t appreciate you. Grand County’s lost some great people for just this reason.
The growth in Moab has been a steady, predictable uptrend. The kind of economic uptrend most communities and businesses would love, love, love to have. With prosperity comes challenges: busy streets, sometimes crowded stores and restaurants, unnecessary noise, unnecessary commercial activity in residential areas, housing and zoning issues. These are all challenges that could be resolved with competent leadership.
The sad news is that our leaders have not done a good job of planning ahead and accommodating our growth. The issues we have today are pretty much the same ones we’ve had for a decade.
Is it possible that our leaders have not kept up, haven’t done their jobs and now surrender with calls for moratoriums, slow downs, and excuses to blame the tourism board? When these individuals ask for your vote next time, check out their previous campaign promises and see how they’ve done.
In the meantime, I believe the community owes Elaine and her staff a huge apology for the negativity, and sometimes personal attacks, that she’s endured. Whether you’re in the tourism business or not, you should be outraged and step up. Otherwise your silence tells me you agree we’re like Nazis.