There's an old cliche that states "what goes around ... comes around."
Whether you accept this statement at face value, or interpret it as I do (being horribly dyslexic with too much time on my hands ... the basic concept is "How you treat people will come back to you" (Karma). What made me even think of this old cliche was a story about how the fair weather and summer months bring on distinct changes in our local resident's lifestyle options.
Traffic jams on our roads, restaurant availability being a thing of the past. Going to the grocery store in the middle of the night as not to end up 10 grocery carts back, sandwiched between foreign speakers and tourists searching for directions to Yosemite ... living in paradise does have its drawbacks.
Tourism definitely impacts our quality of life, but it also improves that same "quality of life." Our local townships rely on the tourism dollars being spent in our region. Every dollar spent in our towns not only benefits the business owners and their employees by infusing their business success, but also sustaining these same businesses when quieter months follow. Keep in mind, these are the same businesses that hire our youth, donate to our local organizations and educational scholarships and provide local citizens valuable services year round.... we should be more business friendly.
This same tourism dollar provides the tax base that helps Madera County provide public safety (fire and sheriff protection), road repairs, library maintenance and social services. These are the "expected" services that also elevate the quality of life in our region and are proportionately paid for through tourism taxation. Nice to know that tourists are helping to pay for the services they also benefit from.
Our small hospitality business here in Oakhurst developed some interesting facts from this past summer.
This summer alone we paid the County of Madera over $4,100 in tourism tax (TOT or bed tax). This money is charged to every tourist staying in a hotel/bed and breakfast.
We referred 774 people to various local restaurants. If you project an average dinner charge of $15 per person, this business assisted in garnering additional tourism dollars for local restaurants' of more than $11,000 and $1,277 in sales tax to Madera County.
Additional businesses benefited by local referrals as well. Dentists, auto repair, grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, optometrists, recreational services and many other local business.
What's amazing to think of is if these figures are realized by a small hospitality business, imagine what some of our larger tourism driven businesses are able to bring to our region during that same seasonal deluge of tourists. Suddenly, tourism is looking pretty good.
In my perfect world, I enjoy sharing our lovely region with the world. I am grateful that our local businesses and merchants thrive during these seasonal, tourism treks. I am thrilled to know that if more local businesses have a great year, they in turn will give more back to the community that draws on their services throughout the year.
I also am elated to know that every tourism dollar spent in our region is one less tax dollar that comes out of my pocket.
Tourism is a good thing ... "What goes around comes around" ... So I'll enjoy the quiet down times until the traffic starts again and my favorite local restaurants begin to refill. It's a small price to pay when you live in paradise.
As long as tourists continue to help with our businesses survival and pay for community improvements, I am sure to look forward to next summer and all that it brings.