I got a big chuckle this week reading an online think piece in Crain's New York Business. The story, titled “The Trauma of Tourism” and written by Erik Ipsen, recounts the disgust some New York residents have for tourists fouling their otherwise-perfect lives. In particular, people living in SoHo are ticked because so much retail has gone into the neighborhood that sidewalks and cafes are jammed with these out-of-town interlopers. Likewise, the hipsters in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn don't like that some of the city's 50 million annual tourists make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge to drink in the neighborhood's bars.
Sorry, but I don't have much empathy for these people. Coming from a city with precious few tourists (save those who come for a ballgame or to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and an economy to match, I find it outrageous that people turn up their noses at the rich economic engine that is tourism. Tourists, especially those who visit New York, arrive with lots of cash they're willing to spend on tiny $300 hotel rooms, $55 steaks and $18 cocktails.
Then, once their wallets are depleted, they get back on a plane or in a car and leave. They don't send their children to local schools or usually don't use the city's healthcare system. They come, they spend and then they leave. I wish we here in Cleveland were so lucky as these brats in New York. They need to wake-up and appreciate what they have: prosperity fueled by tourism.