May 12th, 2022
Planning the future of tourism is perhaps one of the most important projects that we will undertake together as a community. We have all felt the impact of increased visitation in recent years, especially since the pandemic, as more visitors arrived on our doorstep to enjoy the public lands and outdoor experiences that we all cherish as Teton County locals.
Hearing from residents so we can consider how to address the impacts of tourism is one of the most critical parts of developing a Sustainable Destination Management Plan (SDMP) for Jackson Hole, a project that began in Fall 2021 and will be completed in Fall 2022. We thank the over 4,500 residents who gave their valuable time by participating and sharing their insights through the resident sentiment survey earlier this spring. The results of this survey will help shape the next phase of work as we consider the priority issues that you, the residents who live and work in Teton County, have flagged through your contribution to the survey.
During the project’s research phase, the consulting teams from George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies and Confluence Sustainability, conducted a week-long series of listening sessions, including two public meetings that the community was invited to attend, along with 14 one-on-one interviews of local elected officials, public land managers, business, civic leaders, and focus group sessions attended by another 50 community and tourism stakeholders. During these sessions, broad discussion topics included government, the local economy, environment and resource management, community health and human services, as well as culture and quality of life.
Listening and focus group sessions bring insight to community challenges
The goal of these sessions was to quantify and prioritize the issues Jackson Hole is facing, many of which come as no surprise to residents. Throughout the week, the consulting team identified areas where the project's scope needed to expand, particularly to ensure the inclusion of surrounding communities and marginalized residents. The findings from these sessions, along with the resident sentiment survey results will be used for a situation analysis of Jackson Hole as a tourism destination and community, providing a way to measure success using key performance indicators for the community, economic, and environmental health.
A deliverable in the final plan will be a recommendation for a more comprehensive, representative, and holistic destination-level governance structure that better monitors, coordinates, and communicates best practices as they relate to visitor management, resource protection, and resident quality of life.
What happens next?
The SDMP project moves from listening to learning during the next phase, and at the end of May 2022, the community will once again be invited to attend two community meetings which will be an opportunity to be part of developing the vision for tourism in the future.
We invite you, as an important community member, to participate in the tourism visioning and planning meetings designed to validate priority issues identified from the research so far. The goal for these meetings will be to identify practical solutions to address priority issues and continue to receive resident feedback that informs the development of a shared vision for tourism. The consulting team will present global good practices to help inform the community conversation. The team will also present the main research findings to date, including those from the resident sentiment survey.
How to participate? Join us in person at either of the two meetings. These events will also be broadcast live on Facebook.
The consulting team is also hosting two 8-hour workshops with representatives from government, business, conservation, and community organizations aimed at digging deeper into the issues. Residents who would like to be involved in these workshops can send a letter of interest to Carlyann Edwards of the Riverwind Foundation at email@example.com.
Public comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until June 15.