Let’s talk more about the value of tourism

About this time last year, I wrote a letter asking if our community, as a whole, benefitted from tourism? Despite my qualified stated support for tourism, far too many (who should know better), took my question as a threat to their business, or to their manhood, or to their whatever.

They did not stop to either read or think their way through the issue of tourism in the county. Instead, they attacked and made the most ridiculous claims about how we all benefit from tourism – knowing full well that is not true.

One newspaper columnist even made the claim that he knew for a “fact” that every household in this county had tourist dollars coming into it – but he didn’t explain how. After lengthy debate on one of the local news sites, not one piece of evidence was presented that proved that our community, as a whole, benefitted from tourism.

In fact, what became obvious is that not one red cent of tourist dollars filtered back to Shire Hall! In other words tourism does nothing to help build this community’s financial reserves nor does it contribute towards our infrastructure costs. From the comments made, the vast majority believe that tourism is a drain on our municipal treasury and on our pocket books — tourism makes a lot of money for some businesses, but does very little to improve this community.

Like it or not, a basic question needs to be asked of and answered by our local politicians — if our community, as a whole, is not benefitting from tourism, why are we promoting it?

The reason that I want to approach this topic again is pretty straight forward – I would like to try again to start a community discussion on this issue. A discussion based on fact. Like I said prior, I do support tourism because I believe it brings a spirit and vitality to our community, and I also know that some depend on it for their livelihood. But this doesn’t mean that I want things to continue as they are – we as a community can’t afford to do this.

As the tourists use our community, and as a few make money because of it – the rest of us have to tolerate the overcrowding of our streets, stores and hospital emergency. Local residents are left to pay the tab for road side clean up and costly repairs on roads that were never designed for such heavy use. County taxpayers are carrying the load for everyone, without any help from those who use it – tourists! I personally believe that this community is being cheated out of substantial revenue because of the lack of will to implement a tourist tax — new income we seriously need!

A growing number of communities across the province have opted to implement a tourist tax because they need the money – why not the county?

It is time for our community to address this issue properly by having council leading the way with the tourist businesses following. Yes, it will mean that businesses need to develop accounting methods to collect the tourist tax – but that isn’t complicated. Like other business costs, it will be tax deductible, costing them nothing. It should be looked upon as the cost of doing business in a very fine “tourist designated community” — something that business asked for and got. Now is the time to think about how we all can benefit from tourism.

If the tourist tax idea is so heinous to the decision-makers and local business, then it is time to stop using tax dollars to promote tourism and to stop using municipal staff in this endeavour. Allow business to take on the full costs of promoting tourism, as well as, all associated costs that tourism inflicts on this community. You know where I stand on this issue – how about you?

Dennis Fox