Letter: Imagine Bears Ears under responsible tourism model

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shakes hands with Willie Grayeyes of Utah Dine Bikeyah following a short hike to Butler Wash Indian Ruins by the secretary and members of the Utah delegation during a tour of the Bears Ears National Monument on Monday, May 8, 2017.

Imagine an alternative to monument designation or protracted litigation that could’ve avoided reigniting Sage Brush Rebellion-type angst among owners of property within Bears Ears National Monument’s boundary, ranchers legally entitled to graze animals there and holders of water rights.

Imagine a solution that embraced tourism surrounding Bears Ears that: makes positive contributions to the conservation of the area’s natural and cultural heritage; minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts; enhances the well-being of host communities and improves working conditions and access to the industry; involves local people in decisions that affect their lives; provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues; engenders respect between tourists and hosts and builds local pride and confidence.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

TUI Group (Touristik Union International), the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world, has adopted this approach. It’s called responsible tourism, and the United Nations 70th General Assembly supported many of the concepts by designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Imagine that.

Bill Keshlear, Salt Lake City