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Fewer young adults visiting national parks

Fewer young adults visiting national parks

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Jun. 4, 2012 at 8:34 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Recent reports say fewer young adults are visiting national parks. Tourism officials in Utah are trying to entice people of all ages to come visit the parks here.

An article from NBC News states the average age of a typical visitor to the country's national parks is going up. It says fewer people in their 20s have visited destinations like Yosemite or Yellowstone in the last few years.

The concern some officials have about seeing fewer young adults come to the parks is keeping funding relevant for future generations.

Utah Office of Tourism and Film Managing Director Leigh von der Esch said, "I think all of us who have national parks in our state are concerned about where the next stewards of the land are coming from."

Von der Esch says a lot of their advertising money goes to promote programs that appear to be popular with people across all demographics.

Visitors in their 20s
Yosemite – 11%
Yellowstone – 6%

"Our Night Sky Programs, particularly at Bryce [Canyon National Park] with the telescopes that they have appeal to the younger generation every bit as much as the older," she explained.

Across the country, the number of people going to national parks has dipped slightly. But von der Esch says the Beehive State is bucking that trend.

"Two years ago, I think the park [attendance] increase was 1.5 percent," she said. "We were trending at a 5 percent increase in park visitation. I think our first quarter of this year is up about 14 percent."

Utah's numbers are bolstered by one group of people that seems to be getting steadily larger year by year. Von der Esch says Utah has been getting more international visitors, even during the recession years. European tourists make up a large portion of the people who visit our national parks. But a lot of tourists are coming from places like Brazil and Asia.

"The Chinese, Koreans and the Japanese also travel a lot more in what we would consider for us, the ‘off season,'" Von der Esch said.

Paul Nelson

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