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Rita Weisbrod: Destination Mgmt Plan - let's back up and look for alternatives to tourism

  • Written by Rita Weisbrod

I just received a postcard in the mail (Oct, 20), asking me to call the County Council to stop the SJI Destination Management Plan.  First, I thought it must be one of those anti-government conspiracy-laced bots from Russia or China.  Then I saw that it was sent by “Concerned Citizens” from the same street address as Post San Juan.  So, maybe it was sent by seasonal residents who were not on the Island when the three listening sessions for the Plan were held. 

Have the “Concerned Citizens” read the Plan?  (Spoiler Alert:  It is 89 pages.)  Some evidence of that in the list of what they are against. But it seems they do not understand that the Plan is simply a list of possible options we could consider to mitigate the negative effects of tourism.  Any one of those options would require its own series of meetings and public discussion before any actual policy would be proposed and finally come to a Council vote.  FYI:  In a representative democracy, we do delegate that decision to our elected council. 

Getting to the Plan:   I note that it  presents many cheerful facts about our tourism economy.  It shows that our vigorous promotion of tourism for the last few decades has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams!  Now the Plan proposes alternative ways of managing the problem we have created for ourselves.  What the Plan does NOT ask is if want to continue this vigorous promotion of tourism or consider  alternative source of economic development for the San Juans.  The goal of tourism promotion was to provide jobs for Islanders.  The fact that we import workers for the summer but do not have adequate housing for them means we have overachieved that goal.  

I say, let’s back up a bit and look for alternatives to tourism now that the national economy has changed significantly since we last explored other  economic choices.

Rita Weisbrod