Why are tourism’s benefits so difficult to understand?

Release of a video this week expounding the benefits of tourism to Sylvan Lake puzzles us.

Release of a video this week expounding the benefits of tourism to Sylvan Lake puzzles us. Certainly the businesspeople interviewed understand the realities.

So, why was there a need for the town to spend money creating a video applauding tourists who bring their money to Sylvan Lake, spend it in local businesses and help those businesses employ more people?

Anyone who knows anything about Sylvan Lake knows it’s growth and prosperity have been based on tourism since it began.

The first cottages were built by businessmen in Red Deer seeking a summer refuge. Before that they camped in tents, some families for the whole summer.

While there has been a transition in the ‘cabin’ area, many of the structures there are still reminiscent of years past when people flocked from Calgary, Edmonton or other locales to spend a few weeks of idyll time by the lake.

More recently Sylvan Lake, with its water slides, marina, beaches and other water related amenities has attracted day travellers from Central Alberta to what’s been labelled a “jewel in Alberta’s crown”.

Reading the media release from Economic Development Officer Vicki Kurz, it’s obvious the intention of the video.

It’s goal is to “communicate to residents, council and other key audiences the value of tourism,” said Kurz. “Buy-in from local residents and council for the coming 2015 (town) budget is critical to moving forward the tourism industry in Sylvan Lake, including marketing and development management components.”

To grow the tourism industry in Sylvan Lake, as well as business property tax revenue, the town is planning to spend more of our hard earned tax dollars and act as a catalyst for development of a tourism marketing organization.

Given that those who have some history in this town know tourism’s benefits, we wonder why the town needs to be the leader in creating a cohesive group of business owners who would undertake projects and marketing to enhance the tourism experience in Sylvan Lake.

Where are the business leaders who are benefitting from tourist dollars? Shouldn’t they be the people spurring this action? Shouldn’t they be using organizations like the chamber of commerce to bring cohesiveness to the message that Sylvan is certainly a beautiful place to visit?

It’s unfortunate that those making a considerable livelihood from visitors haven’t chosen to get together and work for the betterment of our community in the past.

Will they be spurred by the town’s involvement in this initiative? We think not.