MTFP | Whitefish managing tourism, maintaining charm

“Everyone loves Whitefish and we just want to make sure it isn’t loved to death because we have a special community,” he said. “And this planning process is a great example of the community coming together to ensure that it does remain a special place.”

MTFP | Whitefish managing tourism, maintaining charm
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read the article at the Montana Free Press by Justin Franz
“Now, five years after that plan was drafted and three years after it was adopted by the city council, the community is looking to revise it and is seeking input from residents. This summer, the Whitefish Sustainable Tourism Management Plan Committee began taking comments from part-time and full-time residents, plus people who have a stake in the community, like workers or business owners who live out of town. The comment period was originally supposed to end this month, but it was extended to Oct. 15 to get those who might have been distracted during the final days of summer, said committee chair Brian Schott.
“This is a chance to regroup and see what issues we might need to readdress,” he said in an interview with Montana Free Press.
Perhaps the most visible result of the tourism plan was the Be A Friend of The Fish campaign spearheaded by Explore Whitefish, the town’s visitors and convention bureau. The campaign, which took off at the beginning of the pandemic, urges visitors to recreate responsibly (pick up trash, be patient when trailheads are crowded), support local businesses and be respectful and kind (the latter being particularly important during the masking era of the pandemic). But there were other aspects of the management plan, as well, such as encouraging local officials to address the area’s lack of worker housing or public transportation.
Since the plan came out, the city has taken some steps to address the ongoing housing crisis, including trying to establish a workforce housing assistance program. Kate McMahon, the person tasked with revising the tourism management plan, said that means the new version might put more emphasis on issues that haven’t been more directly addressed, like tourism and wildfire preparedness. It all depends on what the community tells the committee during the comment period, she said.”

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