Contributing writer Harry Anderson’s column in last week’s edition of The Whidbey Examiner caused a bit of a stir.
In his column, Harry took a good-natured poke at the swarms of tourists who come to visit our beloved island each summer.
Intended to be a humorous piece written from the perspective of someone who lives in Central Whidbey, his column didn’t sit well with some who rely heavily on the tourism industry for their livelihoods.
It’s fair to say not everyone was laughing.
Central Whidbey and other communities on our island rely heavily on tourism and the dollars injected into the local economy. Tourism is a vital industry that nobody can deny is the lifeblood for our business community.
Several weeks ago, The Examiner published an article that looked at Coupeville’s booming Bed and Breakfast industry. We reported that, during 2013, businesses in Island County that paid 2 percent lodging taxes brought more than $240,000.
In Coupeville alone, lodging brought in more than $24,000 in 2 percent tax.
Those funds go back to our community and are used to promote tourism. The funds are directed to organizations such as the nonprofit Coupeville Chamber of Commerce.
Lodging taxes aren’t just an indicator of how much in tourism dollars are being pumped into our local economy on an annual basis, they reveal how much we depend — and therefore appreciate — the impact of tourists.
Harry’s column was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. He concedes now that his humor may have been lost in some quarters.
Residents of Central Whidbey live here because they choose to — and most of us embrace the summer crowds because they help keep our economy healthy and prosperous.
And in no way do we ever want to discourage visitors from sharing in the beauty that we are fortunate enough to call “home.”