Editorial: Tourism pros outweigh annoyances

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.

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.