• Laurel Contributor

Tourism Builds Community

By Nick Breedlove

When you think about visitors to our communities, what comes to mind? Traffic, crowds, and waiting in line longer?

I’d like you to think about it a bit differently.

Visitors equal jobs. In Jackson County, our economy depends on tourism, as it’s the top industry for many of us in the mountains. As we enter November, we see a decline in visitors from October, which is one of our busiest seasons.

Tourists and Visitors are temporary taxpayers – they come here, spend money, and directly support locally-owned, small businesses. Visitors support 1,890 jobs in our county and over $50 million in worker paychecks. That helps our residents put food on the table, pay their mortgages, and receive a smaller property tax bill due to visitor spending. 

Put another way, residents would pay almost $465 more a year in taxes if we didn’t have the robust tourism economy we do.

While we want to grow tourism to benefit the community, growth for growth’s sake isn’t sustainable. Over the last year, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority has been working to better understand the visitors who come here. Following the research, the TDA implemented the findings into a strategic plan with the community in mind. 

We’re shifting our marketing and promotions from times when it’s already busy to focus on times of the year when we need to give small businesses a boost.

We all know the unspoken slow season is January–March. We have plenty of business on the weekends, too, so how about filling those cash registers Monday through Thursday?

That’s what we’re aiming for with our new strategic plan, along with ensuring preserving our environment for future generations and way of life remains a top priority.

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