This piece originally published in Terrain.org
Before his contract was terminated by the San Juan County Commission in March, Charlie DeLorme was more than the county’s economic development director: he was its international ambassador, traveling to trade shows in Europe and Asia to promote southeast Utah’s natural beauty and rich cultural history.
Under his watch, the county’s hospitality industry flourished. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of hotel rooms in the county increased by 30 percent, the tax revenue generated from hotel stays more than quadrupled, and 300 new jobs in tourism-related businesses were added. For a county with just under 17,000 people, these numbers are noteworthy.
Yet when we spoke with him in late January of this year, when he was still on the county payroll, he told us that the current county commissioners were wary of making tourism a central element in a plan for a sustainable economic future.