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We Need To Be Careful Not To Put Too Many Eggs In The Tourism Basket

Andrew Nixon, Chautauqua County Visitor’s Bureay president and CEO, thinks the local tourism economy will recover from COVID-19.

That good news is followed by sobering news — it may take more than three years for that recovery to be complete.

Coming off of two strong tourism seasons in 2018 and 2019, tourism countywide has taken a massive hit this year thanks to the novel coronavirus, state-mandated shutdowns of businesses and travel restrictions from some neighboring states. Nixon said many tourism-based businesses are just focusing on getting through to next May, when things could pick up again. The question remains how things will be next spring and summer.

COVID-19 is the cause for the collapse of tourism this year, but let’s be honest — tourism is always cyclical. Some years the weather is poor. In other years there is a national recession that keeps people away or limits the disposable income upon which tourism thrives.

While tourism is a necessary part of our economy, putting too many of our economic eggs in the tourism basket is bad policy. Tourism projects may have the sizzle to dazzle funders, but industry is the steak that sustains families. As Chautauqua County, Jamestown and Dunkirk look to put 2020 behind them, their leaders need to collectively find ways to put themselves on the map for the next wave of big employers.

Amazon was always a longshot for our county — but that is the type of development we desperately need right now. How do we get them here? We note a recent Buffalo News report stating Invest Buffalo Niagara is spending $400,000 on the first detailed study in a decade to look at the top 45 to 50 commercial and industrial sites in Western New York that are not quite ready to be marketed to businesses but could be with a little more work.

What are those sites in Chautauqua County? How do we make those sites ready to be marketed? What needs to be done for them to be shovel-ready?

Those are the types of questions our neighbors are asking. Are we asking them in our halls of government?

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