SALT LAKE CITY — Stunning red rock country with spectacular vistas, great hiking, river running, rock crawling, mountain biking — Moab offers something for everyone, and practically everyone visits.
Moab is home to 5,000 residents and Grand County has about 10,000 people who call it home. Annually, 3 million people visit, and the burden is telling.
“Over the last several years, the locals have been growing weary of all the tourism,” said Elaine Gizler, executive director of the Moab Area Travel Council.
After a survey of local residents, the council launched the “Do It Like A Local” campaign to educate visitors before they come to town on ways to practice sustainable tourism that is kinder to the environment, and the residents who deal with the aftermath.
The multiplatform initiative, which has a dedicated site called doitlikeamoablocal.com, focuses on key themes to help visitors leave Moab’s recreational attractions better than when they found them, including “Pack It In, Pack It Out,” and “Don’t Bust the Crust,” referring to the fragile cryptobiotic soil crust that protects against erosion. The crust will remain intact if people stay on trails.
The campaign works this way. People with booked travel plans to Moab can expect to see display and video intercept ads and articles. And once the traveler has arrived, they will continue to see in-market advertising on TripAdvisor, and on “branded” items such as table tents, street banners and vinyl window decals in Moab restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies and other local businesses.
”We’re having ongoing conversations with fellow locals about what ‘do it like a local’ means to them and incorporating their ideas into the initiative,” said Gizler. “Their input and comments are leading the effort to help educate Moab visitors to treat our precious environment kindly.”
Gizler added that the success of the state’s Mighty Five campaign promoting Utah’s five national parks has led to a dramatic infusion of visitors to a relatively small town in which the infrastructure has struggled to keep pace.
A survey of 405 people in the community pointedly revealed that locals are weary of badly-behaving visitors.
“A lot of it was pretty negative about what was happening in our community,” Gizler said, while at the same time residents dismissed, or didn’t fully realize, the benefit tourism dollars bring the community.
Gizler set about educating everyone, embarking on a successful effort to have the Moab Travel Council certified globally as a sustainable council and creating a series of educational videos on YouTube.
One humorous video features the music of David Steward and his band performing “Do It Like A Local,” emphasizing that visitors should bring plenty of water, top off the gas tank and wear sunscreen.
Gizler said as far as she knows, the tourism sustainability campaign for Moab is the first travel campaign in the state aimed at educating visitors before they arrive to town, and while they are visiting.
“We want to be known as the little community that leads the way,” she said. “We are definitely trying to make a statement: We want you to come, we want you to visit here and spend time outdoors, but we also ask that you care for these public lands we have.
“Do it like a local.”