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Postcard from the Past - Who Gets the Tourist’s Dollar?

Written by Dick Perue

In the olden days – the 1920s in this case – many Wyoming towns were scrambling to attract tourism to their area. The local newspaper ran the following article concerning how the tourist dollar was being spent.

“Lack of appreciation of the value to the community as a whole gained from tourist traffic is probably the greatest stumbling block in the pathway of securing greater co-operation in any effort directed toward gaining an increase in that field of finance production, says the Wasatch Wave at Heber City, Utah.

“Too, generally, it is believed that only a few lines of business in a community secure benefit from the dollar that is brought into an area by the tourists. It is a case of considering this a problem, which should be expected to be solved by only those engaged in those particular fields. That is an entirely wrong idea. A community as a whole stands to gain from the tourist dollar. Yes, even the laborer who toils with his hands enjoys some benefit from such revenue in that every dollar that is brought into an area by tourists just adds that much more substantially to the district. And it must be generally acknowledged that the economic strength of a district is chiefly in accordance with the amount of money which is in circulation in that area.

“It is sometimes thought that tourist expenditures benefit principally the transportation agencies. The fallacy of this can be appreciated when it is realized how the average tourist spends his money. A thorough going over and dependable checkup recently showed that the tourist dollar is spent so that it is divided as follows: 20 cents for transportation, 20 cents for hotels and other lodging, 25 cents for purchases at retail stores, 21 cents for eating at restaurants and hotels and eight cents for amusements.”

It’s amazing how little things change. Today, the only real difference is that over a quarter of the total amount of the tourist dollar is to pay taxes or to comply with unnecessary government regulations – something that wasn’t “required” in the “olden days!”