Ecotourism Can Drive Economic Growth in Wyoming

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Wyoming is rich in natural resources, many of which stand tall and proud like the Grand Tetons and Devils Tower. Throughout the state, Wyoming is full of beautiful rivers, lakes, valleys, mountains and outdoor spaces that can truly take your breath away. Living here, it is easy to take the beauty of Wyoming for granted. However, for people living in much of the rest of the country, these wide open spaces are something they only dream of. This has created an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs to create ecotourism businesses that can attract people from throughout the country, and the world, to beautiful Wyoming.  We wanted to learn more about how outdoor recreation in Wyoming is impacting the economy so we sat down with Domenic Bravo, Administrator of Wyoming State and Parks and the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office. Here are his answers to some of our questions -

Q: What do you feel are the state’s key natural resources that can be used to drive economic growth?

A: All of our natural resources could be used to drive economic growth, if done strategically and thoughtfully.  From our wide expansive spaces to our abundant wildlife, Wyoming is primed to do many cool things in the outdoor recreation arena.

Q: What do people not realize about Wyoming’s natural resources?

A: Although some areas in Wyoming have some tourist crowding, there many gems in the state that still have room for increased visitation and business growth.

Q: What has been the economic impact of Wyoming’s natural resources/parks, etc. thus far?

A: As a whole, the state enjoys a 5.6 billion dollar impact because of the great outdoors.

 Opportunities for Growth

To spur economic growth in the outdoor tourism sector, the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office is taking businesses to trade shows throughout the country. Here is more information about their activities and how businesses can get involved.

Q: What shows are you attending, and how can businesses participate?

A: Once the Outdoor Recreation Office was official, we were invited to present, attend, speak and interact at various trade shows and conferences--National RV Trade Show,  Outdoor Retailer, ICAST, and Interbike, just to name a few. For the shows where we are fortunate to have a booth, we hope it is a space for businesses or local economic development folks to join us for meetings or to provide us information they would like handed out or displayed.

Q: What was the inspiration for attending these shows?

A: Being invited by the Executive Directors of the national trade associations that represent the businesses in outdoor recreation was the catalyst.  From there, it was the willingness to serve on panels, give presentations and then word of mouth that Wyoming is a great place to do business and to live--with unimaginable beauty--that carried it through.  Then, more invites came our way.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by attending?

A: As part of our goals, we hope to promote Wyoming as an Outdoor Recreation Destination and Place to Do Business.   We want to connect with Businesses who my want to relocate or expand into Wyoming. We also want to stay current with current trends in the outdoor recreation industry so we are providing the infrastructure and amenities to keep economic growth moving forward.

Q: Who spearheaded this initiative?

A: When Governor Mead created the Outdoor Recreation Task Force in 2016, that was the start.  Then, with the final report of recommendations--which can be found here, under the about us tab: (http://wyoutdoorrec.org/)--we started the Outdoor Recreation Office.  From there, we have been spearheading this plan and movement forward.  In addition, the Governor created the Subcabinet on Outdoor Recreation.  We are working in partnership with numerous agencies to tackle task force recommendations as well as find ways to help expand and enhance business in Wyoming.

Q: Do you have any success stories or business examples you can share?

A: Based on some of the trade show attendance we have already had, outdoor recreation manufacturers are showing profound and distinct interest in expanding into Wyoming.

Goals for the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office

Launching a new office and initiative is not easy, but as Domenic shared, “We are putting everything we can into ensuring its success.  Wyoming already has a very strong outdoor recreation economy, but the opportunity and ability for growth is great.”

Here is more information on the Outdoor Recreation Office and their upcoming activities.

Mission: Wyoming’s Outdoor Recreation Office will strive to enhance and expand the outdoor recreation industry and improve outdoor recreation infrastructure/access within the beautiful state of Wyoming.

Upcoming Goals/Projects 2018/19 (based on Outdoor Recreation Task Force Recommendations):

1)      Web/Application Map Creation: To coalesce all outdoor recreation services, amenities, and businesses into a website with one-stop shopping in order to connect recreationists to all opportunities throughout Wyoming.

2)      Promote Wyoming as an Outdoor Recreation Destination and Place to do Business:  Work directly with other state agencies such as Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Office of Tourism, Workforce Services and Game and Fish to recruit outdoor recreation businesses to expand or move to Wyoming. Promote Wyoming to consumers as THE STATE to visit for all things outdoor recreation. Attend trade shows and consumer shows as well as direct business contacts.

3)      Outdoor Recreation Collaboratives: Improve local recreation economies by facilitating community stakeholder discussions. Make sure communities are aware of resources and opportunities to improve amenities and attract business based on local assets.

4)      Outdoor Recreation Events: Work with communities and other agencies to create and promote outdoor recreation events. Engage the public in these events with the goal of positively impacting local economies.

5)      Utilization of Recreation Action Team (REACT): Use this group of state, federal, and other agencies to develop strategies and meet the overall goals/recommendations of the Outdoor Recreation Office. Initial focus will be on streamlining of permits, planning process and implementing projects within gateway communities.

Contact

For more information, contact Domenic Bravo, Administrator Wyoming State and Parks and Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office at domenic.bravo@wyo.gov.

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