On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Emery County Travel Bureau held an informal meeting in an attempt to discover what the local public wants the tourism arm of the county to focus on. ETV News attempted to attend the meeting, but was not allowed to attend and was excused from the meeting.
This was not a full public meeting and was not organized by the current county commissioners, even though they are the elected officials that are over such department. It did include two candidates who are running for county commissioner.
The Emery County Travel Bureau has come under fire recently as the San Rafael Swell and Manti-La Sal National Forest have both seen swelling visitation as a result of the COVID pandemic. However, the county has not seen the corresponding economic development from such visitation, although this increase in tourism does increase other strains on the county. Those conducting the meeting felt that this was the reason for the discourse in the recent elections.
In another earlier meeting about a future bike path, the local ranchers were not invited to the meeting, but attended anyway. The Emery County Travel Bureau employees expressed that bicycles and the corresponding human traffic would be preferable to the current grazing and cause less damage. These sentiments express some of the disconnect between the community’s views and the travel bureau.
Further, there is concern that Joe’s Fest fell on the same weekend the local ranchers were required to bring cows off the forest, which made such gathering difficult. Residents expressed that this further evidenced this disconnect between tourism and the traditions of the county.
Although ETV News was not allowed to attend the meeting, residents stated that they informed the travel bureau that they needed to focus on the core values of the community and the desires of current residents. They also expressed the difficulty in finding camping sites and the problems with the increased traffic in these secluded areas.
The public also questioned the economic benefit to Emery County, especially western Emery County. It was the consensus of the citizens in attendance that the economy of Emery County can best be strengthened by increasing industry, which requires available infrastructure.