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High marking claims victims

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REVELSTOKE, B.C. - In reporting the deaths of three more snowmobilers caught in an avalanche triggered by high marking, the Revelstoke Times Review hints at puzzlement.

Less than a year ago, two people were killed and dozens partially buried near Revelstoke as the result of high marking on a nearby peak.

This time, the deaths occurred north of Golden. Two fathers and their sons had been caught in the slide, and three of them died.

 

Can ski towns become something else again?

JACKSON, Wyo. - Voters in Aspen and Breckenridge last November approved new or increased lodging taxes, to be used for tourism promotion, as did those in Jackson and Teton County. But Jonathan Schechter, an economic analyst who writes for the Jackson Hole News&Guide , argues for outside-the-marketing box thinking as the valley's residents consider how to spend the $2 million annual proceeds they will get next year.

In making his case, Schechter points to precedent, that of the oilman John D. Rockefeller, who in the 1920s and 1930s purchased 33,000 acres of land in Jackson Hole, eventually transferring it to the federal government when Grand Teton National Park was established in1943.

Rockefeller, said Schechter, had vision - and acted on it.

"Rockefeller could see that, without some sort of long-term vision and related action, the northern part of Jackson Hole valley would become a mishmash of random development, billboards, and the like. In contrast, his preference was for unimpeded scenic vistas."

With two big decisions- how to spend the $2 million in lodging tax money and a new land-use plan for the valley - now in front of it, Jackson Hole should reassess its long-term strategy for economic sustainability. It doesn't, Schechter believes, lie with tourism as conventionally configured. Instead of entering into a marketing war with every other resort trying to lure visitors, he said, Jackson Hole should use the money to "catalyze our efforts to shape a 21 st century economy."

Schechter makes the case that three things are clear when looking ahead: A portion of the community will continue to enjoy great investment-generated wealth; real estate sales won't return to their pre-bust levels for quite a while; and improved and cheaper technology will make it easier to work from anywhere.

"And because lifestyle is becoming an increasingly important factor in where people choose to live, those who can afford to live anywhere will continue to be attracted to Jackson Hole," he said.

Meanwhile, in Canmore, Alberta, tourism leaders are hewing to a more conventional approach. The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that 13 hotels in Canmore and nearby Kananaskis have voluntarily levied a 3 percent tax on hotel rooms, yielding a $250,000 annual fund to be used for marketing of tourism. The strategy adopted by the Canmore council last year calls for leveraging special events to promote tourism and hence economic growth.

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