by ANDRU MCCRACKEN
Sometimes it surprises me that locals aren’t carrying around placards on the street denouncing tourism.
Tourism comes with many risks. Risks that go beyond having to wait an ungodly amount of time for your favourite sandwich at a local restaurant.
It’s too bad our approach is such an anarchic one because not all tourism is the same.
Chronic staff shortages, impatient tourists, a more transient population, more litter, fewer and less connected locals, inflated housing prices, zero vacancy, a loss of seniors and people on fixed income. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Some tourism promotes a connection with the area. It actually increases the respect and awareness of the tourist, who visit for more than a day and come back year after year.
What sort of tourism do we currently promote? Essentially it is a bunch of small businesses independently searching out their own niche. Hotels are essentially in the same boat despite getting together to spend room taxes to promote tourism.
What of the soul of our community?
I believe that some folks, the folks who are least likely to profit from an increase in tourism should be considered, and our tourism aspirations tailored, yes, even limited to fit. The livability of our community should be considered.
In our story of the Gathering Tree this week, even the owner has her doubts. Sherral Shaw sees that things might be going in the wrong direction. To me, that means it is time to act.
But here is the rub: There isn’t anybody in a position to consider the overall impact of tourism to our community, let alone provide a strategy. It’s beyond the scope of the programs and committees that currently exist. I think it is time to change that.
Not having a clear vision for the future IS a decision we are making. However lazily and badly.
We need to gather and talk about what we are willing to put up with, what our limits are, and perhaps most importantly. where we want this tourism thing to go.
Remember that our future is what we make it. And we all have a hand in making it. Even if we choose to blindly stumble forward.