Paying our property taxes (112% increase in seven years) was my incentive to read the 89-page County Destination Management Plan
The Plan is as grandiose as the proposed new library that the voters rejected last year. Its premise is that tourism growth is inevitable and that we islanders must plan and pay for the infrastructure and increased county payroll to direct that growth into sustainable niche tourism.
The financial benefit goes to tourism-connected business owners and to local government from visitor spending tax revenue. Tourism workers need shelter, utilities, roads, food and healthcare, which their low wages cannot typically support. The Plan recommends that we islanders build/acquire the infrastructure to facilitate tourists and their service providers. This cost doesn’t pencil out for the majority of island residents and voters. Our stores, banks, insurance brokers, realtors, doctors, tradesmen and the like can prosper without tourists.
Becoming a premier destination (p. 62) is a vanity fantasy. Becoming an off-season destination for eco-tourism is also a fantasy. Winter here is dark, dreary and stormy. Eco-tourism is an outdoor activity.
Making ourselves into a niche tourism market is not friendly to local residents. More taxes, more government payroll to regulate the minutia of our daily lives and the acquisition of more public land (p.72) taken off the tax rolls are costs that outweigh the benefits of tourism.
Please ask our County Council to shelve this plan and rethink its premises.
San Juan Island