The Utah Office of Tourism Celebrates Governor Spencer Cox’s declaration of April as Dark Sky Month. Astrotourism and dark sky messaging complement the tourism Red Emerald Strategic Plan, which aims to elevate life in Utah through responsible tourism stewardship.
The Red Emerald Strategic Plan aims to spread out visitation throughout the state and the year, not just high season and highly visited places. Helping visitors prepare to travel responsibly is a key element. The strategy focuses on the quality of visits rather than the quantity of visitors, and manages visitation consistent with local community priorities.
Vicki Varela, Managing Director, Utah Office of Tourism, said, “Over the last several years we have pivoted dramatically to focus on the quality of the experience for visitor and hosting communities. Preserving dark skies helps communities establish long lasting tourism economies and keeps our places forever mighty. Utah State Parks, our national parks and community partners have shown tremendous leadership and vision in preserving the night sky throughout the state.”
Utah is home to some of the darkest skies on earth and currently leads the world in dark sky preservation with 23 accredited International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) places. With good planning and community support, dark sky preservation and astrotourism is a responsible and sustainable form of tourism that encourages overnight stays, distributes visitation around the state and educates visitors about Utah. Astrotourism could lead to an estimated US$5.8 billion in spending in the Colorado Plateau and support over 113,000 new jobs in the next 10 years.
Jeff Rasmussen, Director, Utah State Parks, said, “I have proudly supported our state park system’s contribution to Utah’s global leadership in the number of designated International Dark Sky Places. Many of our staff, interns, volunteers and partners have worked tirelessly over the last five years to help these parks earn this international honor. Visiting these areas and seeing the pristine night skies in such beautiful and unique settings is a truly spectacular experience.”
Utah’s 23 accredited International Dark-Sky Association places include four of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks, 10 state parks, and two towns. Visitors and residents can go to visitutah.com/stars for a suite of resources to learn how to experience, enjoy and protect the state’s vast night skies.