WASHINGTON, DC—The USDA Forest Service International Programs office hosted a traveling seminar on Planning and Managing Tourism that took place over three weeks this September. This year, they hosted 28 participants from 18 countries, and throughout the trip visited four states: Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The topics included zoning, management plans, carrying capacity, over-tourism, marketing and promotion, stakeholder involvement and destination planning, as well as the implications of climate change for tourism in protected areas. Participants observed these topics through their visits to protected areas, public lands and tourist locations across the Western U.S.
Participants also observed and discussed the role of different government actors and levels of government, local communities, landowners, academia, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, indigenous people, universities, industry associations, user groups, volunteers, and concessionaires, along with other public-private partnerships. The seminar focused on guided and self-guided interpretation, visitor centers, night programs, wayside exhibits, publications, the role of guides and outfitters, online information and the importance of using visitation to build public support for conservation.
The main attraction for many participants was the visit to Black Hills National Forest in Custer, South Dakota. Here, participants met with Deputy Forest Supervisor Dr. Jerry Krueger, Hell Canyon District Ranger Tracy Anderson and their staff. The group learned about the challenges involved in achieving balance within the agency’s multiple-use mission. They also participated in a focused discussion on recreation, visitation, and tourism to USFS managed lands. Black Hills National Forest staff provided an overview of their work in recreation, accessibility, rangeland management, mining, fire management and suppression, and timber.
From this seminar, the participants gained valuable knowledge both from the site visits here in the U.S., but also from each other and their professional experiences in their own home countries.