Hug a tourist — or at least thank one

While highlighting the start of Parksville’s annual Beach Festival and last weekend’s Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, Coun. Teresa Patterson also noted the volume of traffic and people in Community Park had “doubled overnight.”

That was not hyperbole.

This time of the year in Parksville Qualicum Beach and really, most areas of Vancouver Island, parking disappears, restaurants become more crowded and getting here and there certainly takes longer. Yes, the visitors have arrived and we’re happy to see them.

In a strictly academic sense, we all like the idea of tourists coming to the area to enjoy the natural beauty and amenities we live amongst every day. At their best, they may even remind us of local lifestyle benefits we have taken for granted.

But when the rubber hits the road — or the parking lots of Community Park — some of us may find our comfortable routines disrupted to the point of wishing the tourists would just have their fun and leave, already.

You will never hear that opinion from the business owners and employees in a community whose only “industry” is, in fact, tourism.

If you do not derive your income from a business that has tourist income, let us remind everyone that the money that businesses make in the summer months, keeps them going in the winter months.

In 2016, visitors spent $131 million in the area, according to information from Blain Sepos, executive director of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association. And that’s only the visitors who stayed in accommodations with four rooms or more. It doesn’t include campgrounds, day trips, B&B stays, vacation rental, or family/friend visitors.

Those visitors spent just over $60 million dollars in food and beverage and accommodations alone.

Those are the kind of dollars that keep our youngsters working those summer jobs at the resorts, restaurants and retail stores, to mention just a few.

So, sure. Your favourite place to go for a bit of quiet and solitude may not be as quiet and solitary as you’d like. And your trip out to dinner or a pint at the pub may require a bit of extra time sitting in traffic.

But all these “interlopers” are the reason we’ve got quality restaurants and shops to enjoy.

So it’s best to leave a bit early to get where you are going, and book a reservation for your favourite pub. And thank a tourist.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News