Missing the Eco-Tourist Train
The former chairman of the city’s environmental committee will ask the City Council tonight to consider the increased revenues that eco-trade could bring to Laguna Beach.
Chris Prelitz cites Mammoth Mountain, Phoenix, Ariz., Ashland, Ore., and Boulder, Vail and Aspen, Colo., as cities that are adopting green measures and drawing enviro-conscious tourists by the bucket-load.
“These places are thriving,” he said. “All the major cities now are preparing for life-after-cheap-oil. We’re missing the boat.” Prelitz said there’s a new consumer group with ample deposable income called LOHAS, for lifestyles of health and sustainability, attracting marketing sharpshooters.
Including Prelitz, five of the seven members of the council-appointed environmental committee resigned at the same time, citing frustration with getting plans implemented or even seriously considered.
“Our tourist board has mainly gone for art as our biggest banner to wave,” said Prelitz. “But people aren’t spending money on art. How many galleries have closed in town?”
Prelitz said the city needs to focus on its natural resources to attract active, healthy, eco-friendly and outdoorsy consumers. The high-end and adventurous traveler, Prelitz said, is also opting to vacation closer to home due to the economy.
“If we could become the model for a sustainable city,” he said, “we would draw another group of healthy tourists who want to keep the ocean safe, for instance. They’re not going to be smoking cigarettes on the beach and tossing it in the ocean.”
Prelitz will speak at the beginning of the meeting tonight, which starts at 6 p.m.