The Travel and Tourism board is launching a new campaign to include sustainability initiatives as part of its promotion of Jackson Hole as a tourist destination.
The campaign will include a new “Stay Wild” canvas grocery bag to be distributed free to visitors deplaning at Jackson Hole Airport. The bags will also be offered to locals attending an open house at Jackson Whole Grocer at 8 a.m. Sept. 12 to learn more about the board’s plans.
“In anticipation of a potential plastic bag ban in Teton County, the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board wanted to assist in town and county efforts to reduce plastic, but also educate visitors on the valley’s sustainable initiatives,” Brian Modena, board member and marketing chairman, said in a statement.
The bag also features an illustration showing activities and amenities in the valley and “a rally cry to visitors and locals to Keep Jackson Hole Wild to ensure that its wonder never fades,” a release said.
Other ideas include airport signs and a new page on the board’s website outlining sustainable priorities.
“Jackson Hole is part of the largest untouched and intact ecosystem in the Lower 48, and it’s our responsibility to keep it wild,” the webpage said. “We are home to residents of the last true mountain town, the world’s first national park, and some wild characters.”
The page highlights safe wildlife viewing practices, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the SHIFT JH public lands conference, and Grand Teton National Park’s compost and recycling programs.
The initiative follows pressure from town and county elected officials for the board to step up sustainability efforts. During the annual review of the board’s budget in June, electeds asked how the board could emphasize a sustainability message as it promotes travel to Jackson Hole, such as informing people about recycling or the START bus.
The lodging tax is a 2 percent tax on hotel stays in Teton County. Sixty percent of the revenue goes to off-season promotion of travel and tourism to Jackson Hole, distributed through the board. The remaining 40 percent goes into town and county coffers to pay for services like START, parks and pathways and Fire/EMS.
Renewing the tax is up for a vote Nov. 6. Two Political Action Committees, or PACs, have formed, one for and one against keeping the tax, to try to sway voters in the upcoming general election.
Proponents say the lodging tax is an important revenue stream that would be hard to replace. Critics worry that it promotes excessive tourism even though the money is targeted at offseason promotions.