Cooperative marketing is key for town
When Haines dedicated funds to promoting tourism and economic development, we created a fund for protecting our future; much like stacking wood for winter. Could they do a better job? Of course; it’s government. But let’s not "throw out the baby with the bathwater." We do need to take some responsibility and require the CVB to track their marketing dollars and scrutinize their marketing plan annually. We should also demand an economic development plan from the borough government. Recent criticism that "tourism should support itself just like fishing," however, is simply divisive. Operating the Haines fish and game office costs $250,000 annually, funded entirely from the state general fund. Although I’ll be the first to fight for commercial fishermen, even fishing gets outside support. Cooperatively marketing Haines is crucial for us to compete with every tourist destination worldwide. If we decide to be the only town not to welcome them and respond to inquiries, we will see that part of our economy decline. That has been statistically proven. Some believe the large tour companies benefit from tourism taxes. Not so. They pay their own way by spending thousands each year in commissions to market through the cruise lines that supply their clients. Cutting tourism promotion will scarcely affect them. Whether we recognize it or not, we are the real beneficiaries of the independent travelers who support our restaurants, retailers and even contractors when some eventually move here, ultimately discovering the importance of stacking wood like the rest of us.