The snow is melting and the days are getting longer. It’s the time of year that Moabites are planning river trips, watching for the first spring flowers and looking forward to ignoring the snow shovel. But in addition to planning spring adventures, many of us are bracing for the tourist invasion with Main Street traffic jams, crowded biking and hiking trails, lines in grocery stores, restaurants and generally everywhere in town, loud UTV motors and the list goes on.
For the past few years, the frustration and tensions with the sheer number of tourists have grown. It’s the topic of conversations across all spectrums of our community. Yet we continue to spend our millions on “promoting Moab.” Why? So developers can build more hotels, which in turn, cause more affordable housing shortages. So the parks and trails on surrounding public lands will be overrun with so many visitors that the federal agencies can’t adequately manage the lands. Or because spending millions to promote tourism is what the county’s done for years, and we haven’t taken the time to stop and ask if this is what we want our community to look like nine months out of the year.
Things have changed drastically in recent years. Tourism has arrived and is here to stay. But the recent growth in tourism is not sustainable or desirable.
Since both the city and county councils have passed moratoriums on new commercial development, would it not also make sense to hit the pause button on promoting Moab? I feel that the Grand County Council and our community should step back and take a hard look at what’s happening to our home before pouring more Transient Room Tax (TRT) revenues into advertising for more tourists.
Talk to your representatives. Let’s make a positive difference for residents and visitors alike.