Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

December 21, 2013

City debates cost of tourism

TRAVERSE CITY — A growing debate over the toll that more frequent festivals and increased tourism takes on Traverse City’s infrastructure has pushed noise and trash questions off the main stage.

Festival promoters and tourism officials oppose an increase in festival fees as arbitrary, and they question city officials’ statements that more tourists and festivals translates to increased burden on local government. They also maintain increased economic activity from tourism — what they contend is an estimated $1 billion-plus a year in direct spending — covers any additional cost the city may incur.

But city Commissioner Barbara Budros, perhaps the city’s most outspoken advocate for increased fees for festivals on city property, put it bluntly: tourism is a drain on the city’s infrastructure, from trash pickup to wear and tear on city streets, parks, and other services.

“Tourists come here and put money into the area’s businesses; they don’t put any money into the city’s general fund,” she said. “I agree tourism is an economic driver here, but we have to be careful with balancing this so we are not ruining our city.”

Brad Van Dommelen, president and CEO for the local Visitors Bureau that recently renamed itself Traverse City Tourism, called Budros’ comments “irresponsible.” He said visitors spend $1.2 billion in the area and create 12,000 jobs. Without tourism, he said the city’s downtown would be “boarded up.” Instead, the thriving business community generates property taxes to feed the city, he said.

Van Dommelen, who lives in Long Lake Township, said he’s against proposed limits on festivals, higher festival fees, or any city policy that deters economic activity. Festival critics, he charged, are a minority of mostly retired teachers and auto workers who live on pensions who don’t have to worry about making a living.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot