Our View: We need to scare up as many tourists as we can | TheUnion.com

Our View: We need to scare up as many tourists as we can

It was disappointing news to share in recent weeks that there will be no Halloween Parade this year in Nevada City.

The event, which would have made its third annual appearance this weekend, had proven to be a popular one — so much so that apparently some Nevada City residents suggested it was too much of a good thing.

“The residents of Nevada City had a problem with the parade because it brought so many people to town,” Kim Cacioppo, an organizer, told The Union “It was already a busy area for them to do trick-or-treating, so they were unhappy that the parade brought even more people in, and people from out of town.”

Such a mind-set is disappointing to see, considering the impact the tourism industry has on our local economy. After all, as our local businesses, government officials and community leaders know, we need to scare up as many tourists as we can.

And by coming together to put our best foot forward as a community, rather than revert to a Not In My Back Yard mind-set, perhaps we can even convince them to stay.

“Tourism is a key economic generator in Nevada County,” reads the 2015-16 Nevada County Demographic and Statistical Profile, a thorough summary report published by County CEO Rick Haffey’s office. “According to a study by Dean Runyon Associates, in 2011 Nevada County benefited from $283 million in travel related spending. From 1992-2011, visitor spending in Nevada County increased on average 3.2 percent annually. Spending by visitors generates sales in lodging, food services, recreation, transportation, and retail businesses. These sales support jobs for County residents and contribute tax revenue to local and state government.”

Those jobs, according to the county’s profile, comprise the largest employment sector of our community with 72 percent of people working in the Service-Providing realm, which is followed by the Government (21 percent) and Goods Producing (7 percent) sectors. Of those working in the service industry, 18 percent — or 4,615 workers — are employed in the Leisure & Hospitality industry.

The commitment to drawing consumers — i.e. tourists — to our community has been a clear one, with the County of Nevada, and cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City all dedicating funding, and planning efforts, to the cause. The Nevada County Economic Resource Council, along with our community’s chambers of commerce and business district associations, have all taken on roles to help bring more people to visit this wonderful place we all call home.

Not only are the dollars spent by tourists at our restaurants, event venues and storefronts vital to our local economy, the prospect of those visitors one day becoming new residents here another aspect that should be embraced.

Ten to 15 years ago, there was much concern of the great deal of growth our community stood to see in the years ahead, as the county population rose from 92,053 in 2000 to 98,764 in 2010. Yet as the county’s demographic and statistic profile reports, the predicted growth did not happen and, with the recession, the population declined to 97,225 in 2014.

As a community, we regularly return to hand-wringing over striking a balance between the quality of life that brought many of us to western Nevada County and the need for growth and economic development. It’s an important conversation for a community so dependent on the Service-Providing sector of employment, which often includes lower-paying jobs that fall short of providing income to sustain families.

We do see positive signs for the future of our community, such as efforts with the Digital Media Campus initiative led by the ERC and the broadband infrastructure improvement effort spearheaded by Spiral Internet — both of which could lead to growth in higher-paying jobs. But to realize the full potential that those assets, among others, would offer to us, we must put out the welcome mat rather than pull up the drawbridge.

“Nevada County provides a welcoming and exciting experience for visitors,” the county’s profile report reads. “Whether they come to watch the Tour of Nevada City bicycle race, hit the slopes in Truckee or enjoy the Cornish Christmas street fair, there’s something for everyone here.”

And by coming together to put our best foot forward as a community, rather than revert to a Not In My Back Yard mind-set, perhaps we can even convince them to stay.

The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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