They are back and thank God they show up. It is the beginning of the flow of our friends the tourists who help keep our area economy afloat. Say what you want about the increase in traffic and the difficulties of finding a parking space in town. Without those tourist dollars, the stores would be boarded up and we would not have any place to shop.
I have shared in the past that economists track tourist dollars spent in towns such as ours and they seem to agree that for each dollar spent here by a tourist it generates $12 worth of spending. The dollars spent at a restaurant when they eat here on the way to Yosemite is then spent here by the waitress and the rest of the restaurant staff on groceries, gas, movies, bike repairs, auto repairs, rent, and some to charity. Landlords collect the rents and make improvements in the community and the local politicians allocate tax dollars back here in the form of fire departments and sheriff deputies, road repairs, and other benefits.
Many of the dollars spent started out in the pocket of somebody who decided to come visit us for a few days. We just need to act as welcoming hosts and hostesses and make sure they have a great time so they want to return.
So what can we do to help them out? First, smile. When you see the travelers getting out of the motor homes and cars, be friendly. It won't cost you a cent. If people ask for directions, make the directions clear and concise, and use landmarks they can readily see.
Don't utter the phrase, "Go out a few miles 'til you pass the place where Fred's barn used to be and turn toward the old school and stay straight until you are beyond Mrs.O'Malley's cottage." They usually want to get to a motel, a restaurant, Bass Lake or Yosemite.
When chatting with the visitors, recommend a place to eat or shop where you like to go.
Speaking of eateries, it sure is fun to walk into our local places and see so many young people working behind the counters. Those are the next leaders of our area, state and country. Who knows? Your Miller's or Fork's burger might be served to you by a future Senator. Your popcorn at the MET might be given to you by a future member of the county board of supervisors. That pie at Pete's Place might be sliced by a student who will become an EMT and save your life in a few years.
Those organizations scour the applications looking for those good kids who want to work and they hire them back season-after-season. In fact, one of the kids who used to sell me hamburgers at the lake during past summers is now one of my students through Fresno State in the teacher education program and was just was hired to work in Los Banos.
I look forward to this summer as Jack and Finn will return to my street as the fourth generation of one family to vacation at the lake. I look forward to the Fitzgeralds, Blacks, McCobbs, Escovedos, and the many others who make this area better when they are here. We get to live here all year and they save all year just to be here one week. Imagine how they feel when they arrive at their "vacation haven" and breathe the fresh air.
We are all part of the tourist economy and those tourists are what makes this area vibrant. If we chase them away, we will end up like other towns in Madera County. Ever hear of Borden?
So the tourists come, they spend, they enjoy us, and then they leave. Let's do our part and make them feel good about choosing to come into our lovely little part of this wonderful country.