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Western state tourism directors, Interior Secretary Jewell sign new memorandum of understanding

By Chris Moran

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Joined by western states governors at the historic Boardmoor, members of the Western States Tourism Policy Council (WSTPC), Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other federal agency heads today (June 9) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting federal-state dialogue and cooperation on western states tourism and public lands issues.

Travelers to western states spent $276.5 billion in 2012, generating 2.4 million jobs, $687.7 billion in payroll and $41.3 billion in tax revenue. Of particular interest is that in 2013, recreation visitors to national parks exceeded 273 million, with more than one-third of that total — 83.2 million — focused in the West.

“Today’s MOU is a critical component to ensuring a vibrant travel and tourism economy,” Diane Shober, chairwoman of WSTPC and director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, said. “This amazing group and majestic setting illustrates a collective commitment to work tirelessly to advocate for public policies that will produce long-term economic, business development, educational and recreational benefits, especially in rural areas.”

Governors in attendance:

  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter
  • Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead
  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Federal agency partners in attendance:

  • Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior
  • Mike Connor, Deputy Secretary of the Interior
  • Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
  • Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
  • Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary of USDA for Natural Resources and Environment
  • Jim Hubbard, Deputy Chief, U.S. Forest Service
  • Ed Hall, Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Dan Ashe, Director, Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Neil Kronze, Director, Bureau of Land Management

WSTPC members in attendance:

  • Diane Shober, WSTPC chairwoman and Director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism
  • Al White, Director, Colorado Office of Tourism
  • Claudia Vecchio, Director, Nevada Commission on Tourism
  • Todd Davidson, CEO, Travel Oregon
  • Vicki Varela, Director, Utah Office of Travel and Tourism
  • Brian White, on behalf of Visit California
  • Julie Walker, on behalf of Montana Department of Commerce

The mission of the Western States Tourism Policy Council is to foster and encourage a positive environment for travel and tourism by serving as a forum to identify, research, analyze and advocate the travel- and tourism-related issues of public policy and opinion in the western United States. 

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