Letter to the Editor: If you’re enjoying your life in Washington County, thank a visitor

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — The Washington County Convention and Tourism Office recently received the Champion of Change award from the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce. We have the highest respect for the chamber leadership and its members, and we are thrilled that our efforts are in harmony with the chamber’s vision.

The award is presented each year to a public-sector employee or organization for “contributions and efforts that have had a positive impact in promoting business and improving the climate for thriving in business in our community.”

We are thrilled to be acknowledged alongside some true community heroes, but we are keenly aware that our efforts to improve the climate for thriving business would be fruitless without you: the people, the communities, the organizations, businesses, nonprofits and government entities of Washington County.

Three key objectives of our office this past year (and beyond) were to: 1) to energize, inspire and reward the community, 2) to establish a cohesive “community-led vision” for tourism, and 3) to better connect tourism with economic development.

As we set out to do this we’ve discovered a common thread expressed by both visitors and locals. People tell us they “feel” something different here. The welcoming attitude and the genuine “niceness” of the people in our communities gives us a distinct advantage over other destinations. That welcoming, helpful attitude probably has as much influence on improving the business climate as any of the external strategies.

The positive influence of the people here enhances the natural beauty and offerings of our area. Your welcoming support solidifies our efforts to create a community energized by nature, inspired by achievement and rewarded through the opportunity of tourism and outdoor recreation. And your efforts are paying off – for you, for the wellness of our community and the prosperity of us all. Because of it, we all reap the rewards:

  • Tourism is one of the major contributors to the economy in Washington County, bringing millions of dollars in economic prosperity. Visitors who stay in hotels bring nearly $800 million into our local economy each year.
  • Tourism reduces the tax burden of local residents by more than $1,300 per household annually.
  • Tourism creates jobs – nearly 8,500 in Washington County.
  • Tourism generates a positive economic cycle that brings in revenue from the outside and distributes it throughout the county. The continual churn of these dollars in our economy keeps local businesses thriving and creates energy and inspiration in our communities.
  • Tourism improves the quality of life here by sparking investment in new visitor related assets that residents get to enjoy including restaurants, trails, parks, recreation facilities, bike paths, golf courses, etc. Many of the activities we now enjoy simply wouldn’t be here without the economic and tax revenue generated by tourism.
  • Without tourism, we’d each be paying more taxes to maintain some of the basic services of health, education and public safety that we now enjoy.

The Washington County Tourism Office is funded by the visitors who stay here – not at all by local residents. When someone rents a hotel room, a portion of the tax they pay for the room, (Transient Room Tax) is designated for tourism marketing and development.

Our office utilizes these funds to market the incredible scenic assets, and the outstanding facilities, entertainment and recreational opportunities here. Our purpose, as directed by state laws, is to maximize the revenue generated by tourists to create a superior experience for visitors and communities.

It’s easy sometimes to overlook the benefits that come from tourism and events, but they are really part of the fabric of who we are. Tourism activity creates energy and inspiration in our communities. Events infuse millions of dollars into our economy, and they stimulate the livelihood of our people. So many of the rich experiences we have access to would not be here without the revenue and opportunities created by visitors.

This award was a nice shot in the arm for our team, and it should be for you as well. Our team is part of the community, and we consider the community an integral part of our team.

As we look ahead, there is so much more to accomplish. So here’s to another year of working together to build a bright and rewarding future. A future where we can truly enjoy the enhanced opportunities tourism helps generate in our communities.

If you’re enjoying a restaurant, thank a visitor. If you’re using a bike path, thank a visitor. If you’ve experienced a show at Tuacahn, or a round of golf or a hiking trail, thank a visitor. And when those big events come to town, join in, volunteer, get involved and become part of the magic that makes our communities so dynamic and alive!

Thanks for your continuing support in making Washington County a place that is energized by nature, inspired by achievement and rewarded through the opportunities tourism provides.

Submitted by KEVIN LEWIS, director of the Washington County Convention and Tourism Office.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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