Earlier this week, on my drive home from work south on Highway 101, I had to slow down considerably to accommodate the driver of the car in front of me.
Frankly, the workday was a long one, and I was desperate to get home to my ever-faithful canine companion. I was tired, hungry and at the time, the very last thing I thought I needed was getting held up on my drive home through no fault of my own.
On top of it all, there was just enough northbound traffic to make passing the slowpoke an impossibility. The kicker was that the car traveling 10 mph below the speed limit bore out-of-state license plates. As a result, I sarcastically groaned as I said out loud, “Welcome to tourist season.”
My vocal reaction to their lack of speed on our local highway immediately stopped my train of thought in its tracks.
As a Lincoln County resident of no more than nine months, had I already become a salty local, ready to shun the influx of visitors the area expects to receive during the coming summer months?
As tourist season officially kicks off in earnest during this Memorial Day weekend, it’s a good time to remind our readers to put our collective best foot forward, and welcome the influx of guests sure to visit during the next several months. Like the tourists, love them, leave them or worse, if there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving here, it’s that tourism is essential to maintaining our way of life in this corner of the world.
Yes, visitors create far more traffic than we see during off-peak months. At times they make it more difficult to find a secluded spot on a favorite beach, a place to park or get a dinner reservation on a Friday night. And sometimes, tourists unintentionally discover a local’s favorite “secret” fishing holes.
Regardless, now’s certainly not the time to treat our visitors with any less respect than we give each other. Think of our neighbors in the lodging and food and beverage industries, those who last tourist season suffered the effects of the pandemic more than most. It sure would behoove all of us who live here to make this summer’s guests crave a return to our hotels, restaurants and rentals.
Not only do visitors help keep some of our most attractive assets afloat by spending vacation dollars locally, the transient lodging tax money our cities and the county receives via tourism is critical to our municipalities’ working budgets. For example, the city of Newport eliminated the equivalent of 22 full-time positions when last summer’s transient lodging tax money dried up.
This weekend and beyond, let’s help provide our visitors with a joyful experience. Let’s give them countless reasons to recommend Lincoln County to others, and not get too unnerved when the line at the grocery store is longer than usual.
— Michael Heinbach