The city of Pismo Beach collected more than $1 million in bed tax in July — a record high for a single month. We don’t want to read too much into that, though it is encouraging news amid so many gloomy financial reports.
It’s also a testament to the importance of tourism to local economies.
Consider: Nearly 40 percent of Pismo’s general fund is derived from bed tax, which is the city’s single largest source of revenue.
And that’s just part of the financial picture; in addition to paying a tax on lodging, tourists also support the economy by shopping in local stores, eating out at local restaurants, filling up their gas tanks at local service stations.
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Countywide figures are equally impressive. For instance, according to an economic analysis by Dean Runyan Associates, tourism generated $1.1 billion in travel spending countywide in 2009, resulting in nearly $70 million in local and state taxes.
Yet as essential as tourism is to our economy, we recognize that there are times when it can be a nuisance to live where other people vacation, especially during the height of the summer tourist season. Traffic is heavy; parking places are hard to come by; lines at popular restaurants often are out the door; and — if you happen to live within earshot of a popular nightspot — it can be hard to sleep through the noise.
But those are minor gripes compared to what would happen if tourism were to fade. Jobs would dry up; local governments would have to make even more budget cuts on account of additional revenue losses; many businesses would close their doors.
As much as we delight in the peace and quiet of an off-season day at the beach, we recognize that visitors are key to our economic health, and we commend Pismo leaders for their increased efforts to promote the city as a tourist destination.