PC Chamber blazes trail with more holistic approach to tourism economy

PARK CITY, Utah — After surveys from staff and community members, the Board of Directors, a focus group with the Marketing Council, and one-on-one interviews with community leaders, the Park City Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau (PCCVB) officially announced its five-year strategic plan in July. The plan will be presented to city and county councils on September 27 for endorsement.

The new strategic five-year plan builds upon the previous Sustainable Tourism Plan with a five-part objective to guide future initiatives.

“What’s interesting about this process is that it dovetails with the sustainable tourism planning process. All of that data collection for the sustainable tourism plan, we were able to use to determine the new mission, vision and values, and priorities for the organization for the new plan,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau.

An overarching theme of the five-year strategic plan is the desire to build on the Sustainable Tourism Plan and take a more regional approach to many challenges. This runs counter to the typical Chamber of Commerce, whose primary mission is to promote the interest of local businesses, and likewise to a Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is solely focused on promoting tourism and providing information to help with that. The PCCVB fulfills those qualities but goes significantly further than the norm for organizations like this with their five-year strategic plan.

“This new plan … as you look at the mission and the vision, is much broader. Our role [is] serving the community and inspiring sustainable travel … acting as a catalyst for positive change. It’s broader than just visitor attraction. Its focus [is] looking more holistically at our role in the community and how that relates to businesses,” said Wesselhoff. “One of the things that I heard from the selection committee and our board of directors when I first came on board was that they wanted us as an organization to be in better alignment with the city and the county’s priorities, with a real focus on regionalism.”

The plan shows an inclination to serve its almost 1,000 chamber members by being responsive and relevant when communicating, programming, and educating.

It calls for the need to appreciate and understand the region’s visitor economy while remembering that no one wins if visitors feel unwelcome or workers feel insignificant. There is a social responsibility taken up by the PCCVB in this plan.

An example of this is working with Basin Recreation to promote trail safety for hikers and bikers alike or finding ways to work in tandem with city and county officials to help with winter traffic problems through its ability to present information to the public.

“We will continue to attract and manage tourism, not just for the economic benefits but for the social and cultural benefits of the residents and, of course, the business community, our employees, and our visitors. So that’s just a bit of a broader approach to our role in the tourism economy,” said Wesselhoff.

The need to be a support system for all areas of the county shows up in many ways in the plan. Kamas Valley Business Association (KVBA) is a program that was initially set up as a partnership to help serve the community more directly. During Covid-19, the program became defunct. The new strategic plan calls for a reimagining of the KVBA.

“We would like to reimagine the Kamas Valley Business Association and think more meaningfully about how we can serve through our expertise and resources, how we can serve the businesses in all of these strengths across Summit County. We’re excited to reignite and reimagine what the Kamas Valley Business Association can be and support them in new and different ways,” she said.

“We are looking at our communities comprehensively and not necessarily thinking about city or county lines. Visitors don’t know where county lines or city lines are, and even a lot of residents don’t know, so we shouldn’t let that be our boundary in our thinking,” said Wesselhoff.

Moving forward, the PCCVB aims to continue the work in providing services to businesses and attracting visitors but also take a much more active voice in what is going on in the community. Many issues include housing, environment, transportation, and others. The new strategic plan shows a desire to do its part by being part of those conversations, which is not typical of a chamber of commerce or a convention and visitor bureau.

“I feel like it’s a transformational time for our organization to think about our role differently in the community. And it’s also a transformational time for the community as we embark on this new sustainable tourism plan. In partnership and collaboration with many community partners, organizations, and government agencies. It’s a really exciting time for all of Park City and Summit County,” Wesselhoff said.

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