Given yesterday’s article I posted, I am taking this Tourist Tuesday in a different direction. There are many articles globally about how other tourist areas world-wide are dealing with this issue, and many are imposing a special tax, but today, I want to focus on the local organization that already HAS received the revenues from such a tax, the Tourist Improvement District (TID) tax, for which they are receiving approximately 4.6 million dollars a year. How are they spending that money? Primarily on advertising and salaries, per the budget they have laid out. They have added their Sustainable Moments campaign as their ad campaign for sustainable tourism, but are they walking the walk or just talking the talk? We need to ask them and Monterey County, and ask them to demonstrate in specifics, how this Sustainable Tourism campaign is helping and what more they could be doing to lessen the impacts on the county and specifically Big Sur. What data, and how collected, do they have to support this new tax for the “improvement” of the tourist industry? How is “improvement” measured, and what data will they collect?
Tammy recently attended a conference in Canada where she spoke on this Sustainable Moments Campaign. She is quote as saying: “Everyone needs to work together when it comes to balancing demands of a growing tourism sector with environmental stewardship,” the president of the Monterey Country Convention and Visitors Bureau said in Victoria on Tuesday.
“Unless visitor education is evangelized by local residents and business and government, it won’t get the traction it needs,” said Tammy Blount-Canavan.
Tammy has been included in all of the discussions CABS (formerly CPOA) has had with the informal formulating committee for a Sustainable Destination Management Plan. I have also attended all of those meetings, as have representatives for residents, businesses, county, state, and federal governments.
Later in this same article, she also is quoted as saying: “Monterey County was hit by a massive wildfire in 2016 and by subsequent landslides. One destroyed a key bridge (which was rebuilt) used by motorists heading south to Big Sur.
When it became known that the fire was started by an illegal campfire, tempers rose. It MAY HAVE BEEN A LOCAL who was responsible, but the fire became a platform for anti-tourism groups to criticize visitors, Blount-Canavan said. The tourism group entered into a dialogue with community associations and other organizations, which has continued and expanded.”
For the rest of the article go to this link: https://www.timescolonist.com/business/encouraging-tourists-to-behave-when-they-visit-sensitive-sites-1.23609076
I am unclear about where the quote in red, specifically, “It may have been a local who was responsible”, comes from, as I had always heard it was a camp fire which implies camping and visitors. Why would a local have a campfire out on a hiking trail? I would like to see where she got the idea that it might have been a local. And frankly, I also am completely unaware that this fire sparked the “anti-tourism” rhetoric. The community was raw after the fire, and then the bridge collapse. We were not allowed to heal before the community was subjected to the increasing onslaught. I don’t think Tammy understands this community. Overtourism is destroying the environment and our community and our infrastructure. She is right that we all must work together to make this place a sustainable destination, including WITH MCCVB and not against them. If we cannot get the organization who is one of those that seek to draw people here to understand this environment, the community, and its motivations, what chance do we have of getting the general tourist to understand?
One way for MCCVB to work with the local residents, businesses, and government , which dove-tails into the article I wrote yesterday, is to finance some of the projects I suggest – data collection, lobbying Sacramento, the Coastal Commission, supporting our Big Sur Pledge drive with money for T-Shirts, bumper stickers, advertisement etc. with some of the 4.6 million dollars a year it collects from hotels in Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, and others? How about making the Big Sur Pledge and its core beliefs the foundation for your Sustainable Moments campaign?
Or how about this idea? How about helping to finance the creation of a Special Improvement District for Big Sur which would allow it to have more control over the protection of Big Sur by collecting taxes required to go back into improving our infrastructure, enforcement and destination management? You created the Tourist Improvement District, you could help us create the Big Sur Improvement District.
If MCCVB really wants to keep our tourism sustainable, don’t just advertise or talk about it, do it – take action. Everyone wants to make money off of Big Sur but no one wants to provide money to Big Sur to tackle the issues it faces – put money back into the environment and community and infrastructure that is most impacted. Who will be first to give some of that money back?