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Jackson Conference Focuses On Questions Of Sustainable Tourism

Jan Kronsell (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How much tourism is too little or too much? This is the type of question that will be discussed during this year's 22 in 21 conference, hosted by the Charture Institute in Jackson.

Jonathan Schechter, executive director for the Charture Institute, a Wyoming based think tank, said tourism has long been an important part of the economy but there have been recent signs that it is straining the tourism infrastructure.

"Then COVID came along and like with so many other things it changed, how people are dealing with land and how people are dealing with the gateway communities to the National Parks," said Schechter. "And there are so many questions out there about what's going on, what might happen, what could happen, how will it affect our communities?"

The conference will ask those questions of leaders in the tourism industry like the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. It will take place virtually on Wednesday, May 12. Schecter said they will be limiting participants to 250 people because they would like this to be collaborative. Participants joining in will have the opportunity to break out into smaller discussions and put their own two cents on the issue.

Schecter said this coming tourism season promises to be busier than usual so it's important to understand what the costs and strains from the industry are on surrounding communities.

"Whether it's increased amounts of traffic making it harder to get around . All of that takes the pressure on the people, on the land, on the animals," said Schechter. "And we need to be mindful of that, if we're going to have a truly sustainable tourism economy. We can't just grow and grow and grow without thinking about the downsides of it."

Schechter said he hopes the conference creates solutions to manage this growing industry.

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