I never understood tourism

I am going to get nasty emails for this blog but, oh well, here goes.

I am not a big fan of tourism as an economic development tool. I guess much of my thinking on this relates to a study I saw back in the 1990s that looked at economies that were heavily reliant on tourism and found that all of these economies significantly underperform economies more reliant on manufacturing or services.

If you think of it, the tourism sector creates low wage, no benefit jobs with little value add. In addition, thousands of tourism workers go on Employment Insurance during the off-season and so the net economic benefit must be nearly zero.

Now I get a full colour brochure paid for by provincial tax dollars with the Premier and his family telling me to travel in New Brunswick. I find this very odd. I would much rather the Premier’s mug on a brochure soliticiting businesses to move here.

If the Premier wants to get free advertising and to rebuild his public image with the citizens of New Brunswick, let him use Tory party dollars and not tax dollars.

Don’t get me wrong. Tourism is an important part of an economy. Magic Mountain, Crystal Palace, etc. are all important contributors to our quality of life. Visitors to New Brunswick help raise the image of the province (hopefully) and leave a little cash on the table.

But using our tax dollars to convince us to stay here for tourism – I think – is a little over the top. I think that we need to encourage New Brunswickers to go out and see more of the world – to see ‘booming’ places (not in the Times & Transcript usage of the word) and come back and say, yeah, we can do that here.

Go visit Phoenix. Visit Calgary. Visit Atlanta. Visit Memphis. Visit Ireland. Visit Iceland. The province may lose a few tourism dollars but you will gain an understanding of what a growing economy looks like. Maybe you will come back and demand more from your government.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s what they want to avoid.