Jennifer Wesselhoff will be taking the reins at the Park City Chamber Bureau from retiring 21-year CEO Bill Malone on Oct. 19. Wesselhoff has been the President and CEO of the Sedona, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau for the last 13 years.
Wesselhoff says Sedona and Park City aren’t all that different. With both locations boasting large tourism economies and well-known recreational opportunities, Wesselhoff is excited to get to work here in Utah.
“Our organizations are very similar and, surprisingly, our destinations are very similar as well,” she said. “Similar populations, tourism is an economic generator in both of our communities -- a billion-dollar industry, 10,000 jobs. I’ve always admired Park City. Honestly, I wasn’t looking for a new job, but when the opportunity came to explore Park City, I was very excited to do so because it’s really the only place that I would consider moving and calling home.”
During her tenure in Sedona, Wesselhoff spearheaded an effort to research sustainable tourism practices in an effort to understand the often conflicting needs of the business community and local residents in a tourism-driven economy. Places like Sedona and Park City largely rely on tourism to survive but Wesselhoff wanted to answer the question: when and how can a tourist town overdo it?
“Really, the focus of that plan was to try to answer the question: How much is too much,” she said. “Are we loving Sedona to death? What does the future of our quality of life and our environment and our economy look like? And how do we balance all of those things?”
Wesselhoff says in any town that relies so heavily on the tourism industry, there will be both positives and negatives. Tourism brings in millions of dollars each year but towns like Park City run the risk of losing their small mountain-town charm if business development is allowed to run wild.
Increasing development and swelling crowds are something Park City has been grappling with for years and Wesselhoff says residents and businesses should both understand the needs of the other in order to build a thriving community.
“I think it’s important for residents to understand how and what businesses need to operate to be successful year-round and trying to find that middle ground and build consensus on the way to move forward,” she said.
There has been interest in conducting a similar study of tourism practices here in Park City. With ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic further complicating Park City’s resort economy, Wesselhoff will look to hit the ground running when she officially starts the job in October.