I-GO: Infrastructure Improvements for America’s Great Outdoors Critical to Travel and Tourism Industry

From the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.  To read the full Travel Weekly article, click here.

Image of the M. James Gleason (42nd Street) Boat Ramp on the Columbia River

M. James Gleason (42nd Street) Boat Ramp on the Columbia River

Repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure is essential to keeping travel and tourism booming.  That’s the message in a featured article in Travel Weekly, a leading travel industry publication.

U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow sounded the alarm, saying that travel will stall if infrastructure needs are not met.  “If we don’t, we’re locked  We cannot grow the industry,” he said.  “We have to solve it, or it will be the pinch point that will shut off U.S. travel and not go further.  It’s critical, but we have to make it a priority.  These things don’t happen overnight.  We have to get Congress to take some action.”

But infrastructure doesn’t just mean roads, bridges, and airports.  It also means making improvements that enhance visitor experiences on America’s public lands and waters, particularly national parks, according to Derrick Crandall, President of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and Counselor to the National Park Hospitality Association.  WiFi availability, interactive apps, and web-based fee payments are just some examples of ways to modernize and improve national park experiences, he said, with public-private partnerships playing a key role.

“We’re [also] capable of doing a much better job with urban visitors and younger visitors,” he said, noting that augmented reality games and tools could engage a new generation. “We are struggling particularly with younger Americans to get them outdoors and active. But we could do that if we use technology.”  Park modernization is “never going to happen,” he added, “without some extraordinary new thinking.”

Infrastructure improvements on public lands and waters are just some of the issues being addressed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s new “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, which has been asked to provide the Department of the Interior with solutions that will give Americans more access to their public lands and waters and improve visitor experiences.

For more information on the “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, click here.

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Infrastructure conversations in Oregon are happening, including the recreational boating arena in which the Marine Board is a key player.  The Marine Board contributes nearly $10 million per biennium in state boater funds (motorboat registration and title fees) and leverages federal grant dollars to help fund boating facility infrastructure projects around the state.  Learn more about the Marine Board’s Boating Facilities Program.

St. Helens City Docks on the Columbia River in St. Helens, Oregon.

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