Emery County focuses on tourism management

Photo by Jamie Swank

Julie Johansen

In 2017, a tourism office was opened in Emery County. At that time, tourism was based on outdoor recreation under the motto “The Playground is Open”. Special attention was paid to four state parks, including Huntington, Millsite, Green River and Goblin Valley, as well as the wilderness and mountains.

It soon became a huge tourist site in all these areas. This was partly a result of Grand County enacting stricter regulations on outdoor recreation, bringing people to Emery County.

However, Green River has been in the tourist economy for many years due to its location along I-70 and the national park trail. The city also has the largest concentration of hotels and restaurants in Emery County. West Emery County doesn’t have a similar infrastructure, but Airbnbs are on the rise.

The county has seen a steady increase in accommodation and restaurant fund transition tax funds (TRT and TRCC) even during the pandemic years. Most of these funds come from Green River businesses. These taxes are determined by the government as to how they can be spent. There is a new focus on increasing the amount of time people spend in the county, providing more traffic to local businesses, and increasing community funding.

San Rafael Swell has been a hidden gem for locals for many years. While the increase in revenue is beneficial, Emery County is now committed to developing controlled and responsible growth.

Emery County Commissioners seek to manage rather than promote tourism. Now the theme of “Remember to keep it Swell” is being promoted, emphasizing that when visitors come to the Swell, they are not just visitors, they are part of the place. Dingell’s Law is designed to help with this.

The San Rafael Recreation Area specified in the legislation is 218,000 acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. This allows you to go hiking, biking, four-wheeling, horseback riding, canyoning or river running. Meanwhile, Cedar Mountain overlooks the Little Grand Canyon and the Buckhorn Wash.

A field tour was held on May 24 and 25, sponsored by the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area Advisory Council, which was also created in connection with the Dingell Act. The public was invited and an open question and answer period followed the tour. Those interested in the implementation of the law and future meetings can follow the BLM web page on the advisory board.

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