The Right Thing

Government is always eager to help business to the tune of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. And rightly so, in most cases. Government is right to encourage business and help when it can.

What government in some cases does not seem to understand is that tourism also generates income. It puts money in the pockets of businesses that pay sales taxes and property taxes. Investing in tourism is no different than investing in business. The rewards might not be as great or as immediate, but they have the potential to grow quickly and substantially.

You know, neither Harvest Moon nor Bear Festival nor St. Mary Landmarks nor even Techeland Arts Council, the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show nor Tour du Teche are doing what we do for pure entertainment value. It’s not all about the fais-do-do. In fact, the entertainment is really sideline to the economics.

Government sometimes doesn’t understand this. They think, it seems, it’s all a street party and does nothing for the community.

They – we – are doing this to build this community, and to provide an economic impetus based on the tried-and-true model of tourism and tourism dollars. All of these groups ask very little, if anything, of government, only a fraction of the funds they obtain. The rest comes from fundraisers, profits from event functions, donations and hard work.

If government cannot invest a pittance of a sum into economic development via civic organizations as it does corporations, there is a distinct problem in reasoning here.

Moreover, there is a lack of understanding and vision. Government is eager to spend money to help new businesses get off the ground, but they just don’t seem to conceive of tourism as a business and as an input to the local economy.

What, do you think, there would be if there were suddenly no civic groups?

No Bear Festival

No Harvest Moon Festival.

No Teche Theatre.

No wooden boat show.

No cemetery tour.

No tour of historic homes.

No Grevemberg museum.

No paddle race.

No hiking trails.

No paddle routes.

No rejuvenated lampposts on Main Street.

No community scholarship programs.

No beautification and cleanup.

Do I need to go on?

Visitors bring money. They spend money. At our restaurants, motels and shops. What does it take to understand that?

Tell it to Natchitoches. Tell it to Natchez, St. Francisville, Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Mountain Home, Ark. or any one of hundreds of other communities that recognize the value of tourism and the greenbacks they bring with them.

But you can shout it until you’re blue in the face, and it just doesn’t seem to sink in. They can go look at the guest book at Main Street Café and it’s like the pages are blank to them.

Wake up! Look around. We’re sitting on a gold mine. The parish tourism bureau does a great job promoting it. The city’s development office has made some great strides in building the appeal and tourism base. It’s time to start treating tourism, and the groups sacrificing their own time and their own energy, as a business, not a beggar on the street corner with a tin cup.

2 comments to The Right Thing

  • pete cooper, jr.

    Me I’d rather read about creeks, Bogie, and sycmaore trees – and maybe the wooden boat show. ‘Course, I live in St. Martin Parish.
    And presently I’m mighty happy that there are only two days left in this year’s teal season!
    Oh, that didn’t fit in this “reply” spot very well, did it? Nevertheless…
    Two weeks to creek time,cher!

  • blufloyd

    Couple weeks to Mountain Home if healthy and motivated enough.

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