Destination Stewardship

In September 2021, Western Montana's Glacier Country kicked off a year-long destination stewardship planning process needed to balance visitor growth with the long-term health and vibrancy of Montana’s communities, natural resources and quality of life for our residents. What makes destination stewardship different from marketing and management is the process by which we do what we do. It’s a shift from promoting communities to engaging and stewarding communities, which, in turn, provides more livable and sustainable destinations.

In the midst of this global pandemic when destinations across the globe were seeing significant drops in visitation levels, Glacier Country continued to see record-breaking numbers of visitors. This surge in visitation put pressure on natural resources and infrastructure, amplifying issues related to workforce and creating negative resident sentiment toward tourism.

Jim McCaul (MMGY NextFactor) and Cathy Ritter (Better Destinations) guided and facilitated this process. MMGY NextFactor is an industry-leading consulting firm that specializes in helping DMOs deliver sustainable growth to visitor economies and build stronger communities. Better Destinations is a consulting practice that focuses on how to maximize the benefits of tourism while addressing impacts to achieve overall positive outcomes, including stakeholder support.

GCT created a steering committee to guide the development of this plan and act as champions throughout the implementation process. Members of our committee are:

  • Dylan Boyle (Explore Whitefish)
  • Shannon Brilz (University of Montana Conference and Event Services)
  • Ray Brown (Sanders County Community Development Corporation)
  • Loren Flynn (Montana State Parks Region 2 Parks Manager)
  • Amber Pacheco-Holm (Libby Area Chamber of Commerce and Montana Sky)
  • Carole Johnson (Superior Ranger District)
  • Matt Lautzenheiser (Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and Museums Association of Montana)
  • Victoria Lee (Glacier Distilling + Josephine’s Bar)
  • Aubrie Lorona (Swan Mountain Outfitters)
  • Riley Polumbus (Logan Health, Previously Whitefish Mountain Resort)
  • Rep. Katie Sullivan (Montana House of Representatives)
  • Pete Webster (Glacier National Park)
  • Seth Wilson (Blackfoot Challenge)
  • Staff: Racene Friede + Aerionna Skrutvold
  • Consultants: Jim McCaul + Cathy Ritter

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