Update: Outdoor Retailer show, worth millions, to leave Utah; Visit Salt Lake responds

Photo courtesy: Outdoor Retailer

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 17, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah politicians’ opposition to the new Bears Ears National Monument is costing the state the Outdoor Retailer show, which pumps millions of dollars into the local economy twice a year.

Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday talked in a teleconference with representatives from the Outdoor Retailer, the Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, The North Face and REI. Outdoor Retailer later released a statement:

“In light of the outcome of the call today, Outdoor Retailer will not include the state of Utah in the RFP process for future show locations,” the statement said in part.

“Salt Lake City has been hospitable to Outdoor Retailer and our industry for the past 20 years,” Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer show director said, “but we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home.”

The most recent Outdoor Retailer trade show, a four-day event held last month in Salt Lake City, brought in an estimated $20 million in spending by retailers and shoppers, according to the organization. The next show was scheduled for late July.

Patagonia on Feb. 7 released a statement saying it would no longer attend shows held in Utah. Company president and CEO Rose Marcario published her reaction on the Patagonia website.

“Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution on Friday urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits — $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs — that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state,” she said.

“Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other pubic lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public land conservation.”

On Friday afternoon, Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, issued the following statement:

“Many, on all sides, believe we should keep the dialogue open regarding the issues of concern raised by the Outdoor Industry Association this week.

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“It’s extremely unfortunate and disappointing the outdoor industry and those representing the Outdoor Retailer shows feel the actions of our state and federal elected officials outweigh the many benefits Salt Lake offers, particularly when Salt Lake is one of the most environmentally sustainable host cities that could ever host their shows; we feel the merits of Salt Lake would make a compelling and incredibly strong bid, despite the issues at the state level which are currently at the forefront of the outdoor industry’s concern.

“It’s short-sighted of our elected officials to dismiss the concerns of the outdoor industry and unravel the strong work we’ve done as a city, county and state to support an industry that is important to our economy and to our image as a premier recreation destination. It will be difficult to fill the void when OR leaves our capital city after two-plus decades, but I am confident we will welcome new meetings and conventions, and will welcome them with the world-class hospitality Salt Lake has become so well known for throughout the meetings and convention industry.”

Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, also issued a statement Friday afternoon. The statement reads, in part: “Utah is an incredible location for outdoor recreation, home to hundreds of companies that employ thousands of Utahns. We regret the decision by the Outdoor Retailer show to leave our state for political reasons. We hope that they will reconsider and give state leaders an opportunity to work more closely with them in our shared goal of protecting our lands. We have been great partners for more than 20 years. Few can question the mutually beneficial relationship we have had.

“To be clear, our outdoor recreation and tourism sectors are essential components of Utah’s culture, economy and quality of life. Our spectacular natural environment is a legacy passed to us from preceding generations. We all have an obligation to preserve this legacy, even if we do not always agree about the specific tactics or means.”

For the full statement from the Salt Lake Chamber, click here.

The full statement from Outdoor Retailer follows:

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