Thank God for Tourism
A ray of recession relief arriving shortly
By Walter Brooks
Remember when you used to complain about the tourist season on Cape Cod. You remember, all those wealthy New Yorkers flashing their Gold American Express cards and how they crowded you out of your favorite restaurants and shops.
Well, I bet not nearly as many "washashores" will complain this season as suddenly money starts flowing again on Olde Cape Cod.
We were all tourists here once
Most of us forget that "we were all tourists here once", and the minute we moved here year round we began being annoyed at the visitors who came after us.
But there is nothing like a "Great Recession" to cure most of that hypocrisy.
What we KNOW about tourism benefits to Cape Cod
For over two decades our own vacation magazine, Best Read Guide, has researched the spending habits of our summer visitors who read this popular magazine, so popular it has spawned dozens more across America.
Tourism is responsible for a large majority of all the money spent on Cape Cod each year, and think about these dozen points too:
- The average tourist spends in one day what the average Cape resident spends in a week. Our research indicates the median spent per day is well over $200 vs. the $11 each day spent by Cape residents.
- Tourists eat out every meal while residents eat out once a week. If you are a restaurant owner, that a twenty-one meals bought vs. one.
- Tourism employs thousands of Cape Codders. Probably you have relatives either working in the hospitality industry or in a business affected by tourism. After Labor Day they go home having left piles of money, and the don't affect of school and other municipal budgets negatively.
- The money tourists spend in our businesses enable the local owners and employees to have money to spend in the Off Season for home improvements, college education for their kids, etc.
- One out of four American leisure travelers believe a vacation is a birthright. That's way they will come here during a recession as they always have before. The median income of our visitors is over $55,000 while the median income of a resident is $25,318 according to the U.S. Census.
- Recessions always help domestic destinations like Cape Cod. Many vacationers decide to save by not flying overseas, and luckily the Cape is within a day's drive of over a quarter of the U.S. population.
- Tourism brings in outside dollars to support community facilities and services that otherwise might not be developed.
- Tourism encourages civic involvement and pride and provides cultural exchange between hosts and guests. Without tourism here there would be less than half of the restaurants choices you now have.
- Tourism encourages the preservation and celebration of local festivals and cultural events. It's not a coincidence that all our festivals are scheduled during the tourist season - that's when the money crowd is here.
- Facilities and infrastructure developed for tourism can also benefit residents. Think back when you were last on a vacation off Cape. You probably were looking for some entertainment to visit every night while here at home you go out at best once a week. When was the last time YOU visited a Cape Cod museum or theater?
- Tourism helps diversify and stabilize the local economy with extra tax revenues each year through accommodation and restaurant taxes, airport taxes, sales taxes, beach and park entrance fees, employee income tax etc.
- Tourism creates local jobs and business opportunities. These include those jobs directly related to tourism (hotel and tour services) and those that indirectly support tourism (such as food production and housing construction).
The multiplier effect:
Tourism not only creates jobs in the hospitality sector, it also encourages growth in the primary and secondary sectors of the Cape Cod economy. This is known as the multiplier effect which in its simplest form is how many times money spent by a tourist circulates through a country's economy.
Money spent in a hotel helps to create jobs directly in the hotel, but it also creates jobs indirectly elsewhere in the economy. The hotel, for example, has to buy food from local farmers, who may spend some of this money on fertilizer or clothes. The demand for local products increases as tourists often buy souvenirs, which increases secondary employment. Here are a few specific ways:
- Tourism brings new money into the economy.
- Tourist money is returned to the local economy as it is spent over and over again.
- Most financial experts claim each new tourist dollar is spend locally seven times before leaving Cape Cod.
- Tourism helps attract additional businesses and services to support the tourist industry.
- Tourism is labor-intensive.
So the next time you are inconvenienced by a visitors this summer, think about the jobs they help create and the direct benefits to you and every other taxpayer on Cape Cod.