Benefits of tourism| Editorial

San Juan County Council members recognized May 7-13 as National Travel and Tourism Week.

With Memorial Day just around the bend, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of maintaining our tourist-driven economy.

The council’s proclamation reads: “San Juan County recognizes the vital contribution of tourism to a healthy economy and vibrant island communities … tourism provides the islands an opportunity to model Leave No Trace and sustainability practices to the greater public in an effort to protect and preserve the characteristics of our islands which are attractive to so many … San Juan County is proud to be included on many travelers’ “bucket lists,” for its scenic beauty, watchable wildlife, outdoor recreation, history, arts, agritourism and culture.”

The county collected more than $1.4 million in lodging tax and more than $4 million in sales tax in 2016. According to the Dean Runyan Associates 2016 Travel Impacts Report, visitors spent over $211 million in San Juan County, tourism generated 2,140 jobs and visitors to San Juan County generated $21.2 million in local and state taxes.

That is a staggering amount of money.

Thanks to the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau and local chambers, which promote the islands via national and regional media coverage, magazine and newspaper advertising and daily posting on social media accounts, we are a hot destination.

It’s up to us – business owners and community members alike – to make sure visitors have such an incredible experience that they will return – and maybe bring some friends. That means being courteous, helpful and appreciative to travelers who have decided to spend their hard-earned money in our special communities.

And try some tourism right outside your door. Be a visitor in your own backyard: take your family – or your guests – to neighboring islands.

We are lucky enough to live here 365 days out of the year, and our communities are sustained by tourism dollars. So when families, wedding parties and bicyclists share our islands with us, be grateful they chose to visit the place we call home.

Our annual glossy visitors magazine “Springtide” will hit the streets the week before Memorial Day. Grab your copy on one of the ferries, at local businesses or one of our offices.