Western governors act to improve tourist experience on federal lands

Gov. Gary Herbert signed a memorandum
Gov. Gary Herbert signed a memorandum to improve cooperative efforts between federal agencies and western states. (Associated Press)

Governor Gary R. Herbert gathered with governors from five other states today to sign a memorandum, improving cooperative efforts between federal agencies and the Western States Tourism Policy Council.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, Utah’s five national parks are “bucket list” tourist destinations. In 2013, Zion National Park alone drew 2,807,387 visits. Travelers in Utah also spent $7.4 billion and generated $960 million in state and local taxes.

Because of the tax revenue and maintenance costs, state and federal governments sometimes struggle to find a balance managing lands and maximizing their economic impacts.

The new memorandum outlines areas of specific improvement, recognizing the importance of tourism on federal lands and waters.

The cooperative efforts aim to enhance the visitor experience and accessibility to federal lands, waters and shores, while protecting natural, environmental, cultural and historical resources, as well as to advance marketing partnerships between public and private organizations while expanding small business opportunities in tourism.

According to the news release, at the signing Herbert noted the importance of working with the federal government and said, “Tourism in Utah is an integral part of our state’s thriving economy. Today’s signing underscores my commitment to continue growing Utah’s tourism economy. Support and collaboration from our federal partners is essential to our success.”

In attendance at the signing were six western state governors including Gov. Herbert, Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colorado); Gov. Brian Sandoval (Nevada); Gov. Matt Mead (Wyoming); Gov. Jan Brewer (Arizona); Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana), and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, among others.


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