I felt obliged to respond to Ms. McGuire’s proposal to abolish the 1percent dedicated tourism and economic development tax. Numerous studies have shown a direct link between independent traveler visitation and focused marketing. Remove the marketing and the number of travelers drops. Her comment that she supports tourism but just doesn’t want to pay for it is tragically naïve. She could just as easily say she wants to drive a car, but doesn’t think she should have to pay for gas.
Alaskans have been welcoming tourists with open arms since steamships first arrived from Seattle in the late 1800s. The money and employment tourists bring to our communities is vital for the majority of the businesses residents enjoy. Tourism is our very lifeblood; it provides us with new residents when some small percentage of them fall in love with our valley and choose to relocate!
We pay less for goods and services because tourists spend piles of money here. We pay less in property taxes because of the sales taxes paid by tourists. Ms. McGuire’s husband relied on work outside Haines for years to support her family. I would imagine her to be the last person to criticize our efforts to fund local economic development and tourism. Sheinberg’s recent studies showed the economy and jobs as our biggest concerns and confirmed that many of us remain underemployed due to our lackluster economy. Bitterness and exclusion will not serve us.
Welcoming tourists and cheechakos is as Alaskan as strawberry- rhubarb pie!