First, why does the Herald have “The Tourism Effect“ column? It is a mouthpiece for Visit Durango to blab on about what a great job they do and how we would not have a decent life here without them.
True: Tourism is presently a large part of our economy and makes Durango a fun, lively place. It also has some negative effects.
True: Rachel Brown, Visit Durango’s executive director who writes these columns, makes over $105,000 a year. This is four to five times the pay of the average tourist job.
True: Most of the lodgers tax goes to tourism marketing. None of it goes to provide housing, health care and other services for tourism employees.
True: Durango could use the lodgers tax to encourage higher-quality and better-paying jobs. For example, New Mexico has encouraged the film industry, which pays an average wage of over $56,000 a year.
True: Many Durango start-up companies don't stay here because of lack of housing for employees and other reasons (OK, not all due to just tourism).
True: The goals of VD include environmental responsibility and the community, but its 12-member board is composed almost entirely of people with an interest in bringing more tourists here. It does not include one environmentalist or a person from a community group.
The last truth: Other towns in Colorado have listened to their residents and have literally stopped all spending for tourism advertising (Telluride and Crested Butte). Maybe we need to do the same?