President’s Message: The Value of Tourism

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As you read this edition of Main Street News the first flushes of spring are being felt and the region is preparing for the first waves of warmer weather tourists. While all of us work to ensure the creation and expansion of value-added businesses, it is important to take time to express appreciation for and an understanding of, the value of our tourism and hospitality industry.

This sector not only provides financial stability to the region and to the state, it also perpetually etches in the minds of Vermonters and visitors the iconic images that draw visitors to us. Never was the importance and fragility of this industry made clearer than during the spring and fall floods a couple of years ago. We saw firsthand the financial effect on the state’s coffers and painfully witnessed the struggles that Vermont’s businesses endured to survive and come out better and stronger.

The Chamber has redoubled its efforts and focus on the tourism sector. We have redesigned our website and collateral materials to appeal to audiences that we know have a direct affinity for our region. We are venturing across the border into Canada to attend trade shows and to work with their growing agritourism industry. We continue to work to secure year-round air service to and from Toronto via Porter Air. There is good work that can be accomplished through collaboration that will grow economies and on both sides of the border. Once again we will offer our staff and others in the industry conversational French classes through the generosity of Ernie Pomerleau and the staff of Alliance Francaise of the Lake Champlain Region.

Understanding the importance of a clean and healthy Lake Champlain to our economy, your chamber is advocating for state funding of the priorities outlined by the Agency of Natural Resources that will begin returning the waters of the lake to an even higher quality than we enjoy today. While we do not agree that tax and fee increases are necessary to accomplish this, we are committed to finding an equitable solution. After all, if clean water is as high a priority as it is professed to be, then certainly we can find the 10-15 million dollars a year required to make real progress within a 1 billion dollar state budget.

As always, if you have ideas to share or are looking to get involved with the chamber, please feel free to contact me or any of the staff. This really is your chamber.

— Tom Torti, President, LCRCC

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