Dr. Bill Atwood

Welcoming our tourists

In a few short weeks the tourists will have come and gone from our area. They will have traveled from nearby Fresno or from Denmark to visit Yosemite or Bass Lake and they will have enjoyed for a few days what we get to enjoy day after day.

I have stated many times in this column that every one of us is in the tourist industry and as such we need to be gracious and helpful hosts to our visitors. I’ve spent 37 years in the public school system as a teacher, principal, and now as an adjunct professor of graduate studies so my career doesn’t sound like a person who is involved in tourism, but I am. As a resident of this area I am acutely aware what keeps the economy flowing in our spot on the globe are the dollars spent by those travelers.

Economists state that they can track a dollar spent in an area by an outsider twelve times within a local economy. The waitress sells the breakfast, the tip she earns goes to pay for the bike repair, the repairman buys a greeting card at the Hallmark store and the employee takes her wages to enjoy a movie at the MET.

That cycle continues all over the area and so each dollar spent here multiplies by twelve. Do the math. Imagine if the tourists spent ten million dollars while visiting us it would translate into $120,000,000.

That is a lot of moola and it represents many jobs. Those jobs require people to live here and their kids need to attend schools. Ergo, I am in the tourist industry.

You wouldn’t be rude to a guest in your home so let’s be inviting to the guests in our area. It only takes easy and simple actions on our part to enhance someone’s vacation. A day before July 4, I walked across the street to the rental house and chatted with the renter of the week. I discovered that they did not have a boat and informed Scott that he and his family wouldn’t be able to view the fireworks on Bass Lake from the dock at that house.

The dock on which I happen to own a slip does provide a great view of the pyrotechnics so I invited Scott’s family to join my family and friends on our dock. It did not cost me a dime and the kids in his family saw the show and the smiles on their faces was a great return on my investment of making an invitation.

Recommending a restaurant or a hiking trail to an out-of-towner expands their enjoyment of the area and makes them want to return. Trust me. When they begin to return year after year they become our tourism ambassadors where they work or live. They are the ones telling their friends to visit our beautiful and friendly area. Show your great ambassadorial skills.

Don’t complain about the crowded parking lots or the increased traffic. I am as affected by it as you are and I am not the most patient person in Eastern Madera County, but I remember that the parking lots that are generally empty during much of the year were paved to accommodate the crowds that come at this time of the year. Tourists are parking in those spaces to walk their dollars into the stores owned and staff by our neighbors.

So embrace the fact that we live where people wish they could live and they want to spend their vacations with us.

Let’s make them feel welcomed.