By Julie Johansen
The Travel Council of Emery County hired consultant Roger Brooks to make recommendations for increasing tourism and helping the economy in the county.
After a week of secretly shopping Emery County, his shopping cart was full. The list in the cart was full of “must sees,” “hidden secrets” and “needs improving” in the county. He presented these ideas and findings at a public meeting held Thursday at the old courthouse in Castle Dale.
At the top of his list of “must sees” were Goblin Valley and the Wedge Overlook. He strongly recommended that the Wedge Overlook should not be called “The Little Grand Canyon,” but instead, “ANOTHER Grand Canyon.” He believes that the grandeur of the scenery there is equally as spectacular as the famous Grand Canyon.
Since tourism is high at Goblin Valley, Brooks suggested that restroom facilities be increased, even if it means bringing in porta-potties. He also proposed that food vendor trucks owned by county citizens would make good improvements there.
On his list of “hidden gems” were the petroglyphs and pictographs found in the county. Brooks felt the most outstanding one he saw was the Rochester Art Panel. Also on this list was the Crystal Geyser, not for its eruptions, but for geological wonders and coloring. He cautioned citizens and business owners to remember that vacationing doesn’t just take place on holidays and weekends.
Topping Brooks’ list of “needs improvement” was that there are few amenities open past 6 p.m. He suggested that Emery County monetize tourism and reminded all that 80% of spending is on shopping, dining and entertainment. His number one recommendation was to develop “a way-finding system.” He claimed that he spent far more time finding things than enjoying the scenery. Brooks explained there is no sense promoting something if it cannot be found. When publishing directions to attractions, he urged that very accurate mileage be included. Cooperation with UDOT on signage should also be required. He recommended that kiosks have county brochures available and that museums should also have brochures advertising the county. One type of brochure could itinerize a day trip including a timetable of things to see as well as listing all amenities and restaurants. Brooks suggested not to advertise the entire San Rafael Swell, but to itemize each hidden gem in the Swell individually.
Brooks proposed that gateways and entries into cities include attractions and activities. These gateways should be placed in a location where they can make the best first impression. He urged each municipality to have an “anchor tenant” like an ATV business that sells and rents ATV’s for use in viewing the beautiful scenery.
Brooks also talked about “raising the bar” or cleaning up each city. He suggested curbside appearance can do wonders for business.
“Look like you are open for business and care if someone comes in,” he pleaded.
Seventy percent of business comes from curbside appeal, Brooks said. He told a story of Battle Mt., Nevada where they held a scrap metal drive and removed 40 ton of waste metal, raising over $5,000 to be used for beautification.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today,” Brooks said in closing.