Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Come on down, water's fine!

I’m all for attracting people to this island and hope that business grows. I just don’t see that the Town really owes it to any business to bring in more traffic. I thought the idea was to take care of the residents first, and leverage some money through the Economic Development Corporation. Lord knows, with over three million in Motel Tax money every year, you’d think we satisfied enough obligations to the tourist industry.

But no, people seem to want more, like special events and all kinds of expensive stuff. “Bring back the Pirate Days” and bigger music venues, people say. Hey, I love a good concert or talking like a pirate, but honestly, I don’t feel obliged to raise money for other businesses. If you look at the SPI social calendar, there are a myriad of meetings, fishing tournaments, fund-raisers, sports events, and parties every single month. And you want MORE?

Part of the problem is this “us or them” division regarding our neighbors in the Valley (that last thought was my wife’s really). If we spent our advertising in the Valley and treated our neighbors with respect, we wouldn’t need a dozen new venues. But no, we spend money in places like Dallas, Houston, and Minnesota. There is this idea that we need wealthy white people with blond kids to come down here. Then, in a fit of craziness, we market to wannabee gang-bang punks with the “Who’s Your Padre” theme. Hey at least I’m not making this stuff up!

As proof, Lori tells me that the Music Fest, featuring Robert Earl Kean, has only sold a little more than a thousand tickets. The reason: they didn’t market to the Valley. Advertising elsewhere was something like a hundred grand – a ton of money. Sponsors wanted folks to pony up MORE money for food, musicians to stay in nice places, and stuff like that.

Then there’s the idea of beautifying the Island. I’m all for doing that so the local residents feel better about it. Myself, I’m proud of our committee work to fix some bay ends. But to equate pretty flowers and trees with increased tourism is all arsey-versey. It’s not like you can plant some flats of winter pansy and hope to sprout 2,000 additional visitors.

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