Trade show highlights value of outdoor recreation

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City this week is a huge event showing how massive outdoor tourism is in Utah. Photo credit: Utah Office of Tourism.

SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of people involved in the outdoor sports and recreation industry are participating in a massive trade show in Salt Lake City this week.

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market runs through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. 

Jason Keith, managing director of Public Land Solutions, a nonprofit group that works with recreation-related businesses in Moab, says Outdoor Retailer features the latest winter sports products, apparel and gear.

“Sleeping bag or Gore-Tex jacket or piece of climbing hardware or something like that,” he says. “It’s everything you can imagine that an outdoor enthusiast might need.”

Keith points out Outdoor Retailer involves manufacturers selling their products to retailers from Utah and all over the U.S. 

It’s reportedly the state’s second biggest convention behind Outdoor Retailer’s summer event and generates more than $20 million to the economy.

Keith adds outdoor recreation has become an integral part of Utah’s overall economy. 

He says oil and gas development near areas such as Canyonlands National Park is a long-term threat to tourism. 

He maintains tourists probably won’t want to climb, hike or bike in areas where oil and gas rigs are popping up. 

Keith says he supports energy development so long as it’s done in a balanced way and ensures a healthy recreation industry, which he says is vital to the local economy.

“Really the regional economy has been taken over by recreation enthusiasts and all the service sector that supplies those things that tourists might want in Moab,” he says.

Keith stresses he supports efforts by the Bureau of Land Management to implement Master Leasing Plans, which would encourage energy development in certain areas, while protecting recreation and tourism sites. 

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