To the Readers' Forum:
With interest I read the editorial in The Sunday Post-Journal and only now begin to understand the depth and lack of understanding within our community, much less the Journal's editorial staff, surrounding tourism and its economic contribution to Chautauqua County.
The $70 million payroll quoted is in no way reflective of the job machine known as the second home industry, the primary and very real part of tourism in Chautauqua. First recognized in a white paper by James Webb of Mayville in the late '90's, this machine employs thousands of contractors ... painters, landscapers, electricians, carpenters and plumbers, not to mention grocery clerks, insurance and real estate agents, attorneys and a host of other jobs disguised as something totally unrelated to tourism.
But they are.
Take away Chautauqua Lake and the second home industry and you have a county such as Stueben, or Cattauragus .. .villages such as Friendship or Bolivar. Or Stockton, or Brocton. Wonderful places to raise children generally free of crime and drugs, but with no economic driver to support even the most basic of life's needs.
Yes, before the editorial staff takes a position on something as important as "tourism" is to Chautauqua, they would serve the community well to gather all of the relevant facts to the situation at hand.
You did get one thing right ... tourism is not the engine that drives the economy ... it's the entire train!
Paul O. Stage, CFP