Studies of successful tourist destinations show that unless a government wisely engages its residents in seeking solutions to the impact of the growing tourism economy, frictions between local residents and the wine and hospitality industries grow. Tourism brings increased use of the infrastructure and the finite resources that impact the quality of life of us local people and the ecology of our county .
Other studies (Foder and Associates) have shown that growth beyond 1% per year leads to diminishing median incomes among populations in metropolitan areas. Governments tend to exaggerate the economic benefits of tourism by failing to take into account that the bulk of the revenue ends up outside the county to multi-national corporations. The large expenditures associated with that growth, particularly the staggering costs of maintenance and expansion of the infrastructure that comes in cycles over several decades, are externalized to the taxpayers. Local governments receive a very small amount of the overall tourist revenue such as fees, the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and sales taxes. Nevertheless, local governments depend on TOT to finance destination marketing in a never-ending cycle of growth. WE DO NOT CHARGE ENOUGH FOR THE TRUE COST OF DEVELOPMENT.
As multinational corporations monetize our fragile hillsides in the Ag Watersheds for “great cabs” and for “authentic experiences” in natural settings, our agricultural and natural lands are urbanized and remote roadways meant for minimal traffic loads, are seriously impacted. It is up to us, the citizens of Napa County, to keep a thriving tourism economy in balance with the needs of locals and the needs of the local ecosystems.