Letter: Tourism imposes tax on the rest of us

Graphic by Lori Deaton

There’s more than a touch of Stockholm syndrome in conversations about the Tourism Development Authority. Again and again you hear, “I’m not against tourism, but …”

Let’s be clear. The post-Vanderbilt emphasis on tourism has left us poorer than we could have been, and every extra tourist who visits makes things worse, not better.

If we use the Census Bureau’s American Community 5-year Survey 2017-vintage data, we see (series DP03_0043, DP04_0142) that city neighborhoods with a larger proportion of jobs in tourism-related sectors are those with a larger proportion of households facing excessive housing costs (using HUD’s definition of excessive).

But that’s water under the bridge; we need current and future tourism-related jobs to make things better, not worse.

Unfortunately, half the tourism-related jobs pay less than 3/4 of the living wage (series S2413_HC01_VC23) — with the extreme case being female workers in the “accommodation and food service” sector who live in South French Broad, where half are paid less than $4,000 a year. In order to house, clothe and feed your family with an income that insulting, you need support from subsidized housing, subsidized transport, food banks and other charities.

In other words, tourism-related jobs impose a tax on the rest of us — either formally through the city and county or informally through charitable donations. Why does this tax exist? So that the owners of these businesses can pretend that the costs of operating their businesses are lower than they really are and stay solvent/declare bigger profits.

— Geoff Kemmish


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Tourism imposes tax on the rest of us

  1. Lulz

    LOL but progressives tell me they’re against corporations, big banks, and developers. And yet they’re the only ones who are making money off of tourism. Want to run an AirBnb in the city? Screw you peon………and pay the high property taxes or we’ll steal your home. And where do those taxes go? To feed the tourism of course lulz. Oddly enough though the businesses now encroaching into neighborhoods and using entire houses are somehow overlooked as not taking housing stock away. One such example is a home above Swannanoa Cleaners off of Merrimon that is a medical office. And uses the entire house, has a parking lot, and has occupied residential homes behind and next to it. Explain that one folks.

    City is a scam ran by scum and supported by brainwashed fools. Period!!!

  2. Bright

    Without using the trite “Do unto to others…” blah, blah, blah, why not call it like it is? Stop worshipping the “tourists are great” bs, and stop being so dang welcoming? Would you welcome a thief into your town? Show tourists that we’re not so misled that we believe that they are going to benefit anyone except the business owners (who then stiff their employees). Take care of your city before the rats take over.

  3. henry

    Excellent point made by the LE writer. Also, as tourism runs down the city infrastructure, tax payers have to fund improvements and bonds to pay for upgrades. Other than a lot of low paying jobs, let the TDA tell us how we benefit from tourism. Obviously, the benefits do not go to average city residents.

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