Cumberland Times-News

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December 2, 2008

Tourism does aid quality of life

I’d like to reply to Don Carns Jr.’s letter, published here on Nov. 23, titled “Heritage tourism, living wages and the roundabout.” Since that letter is a mish-mash of various loosely related rants, I’ll respond only to that part of his letter that deals with heritage tourism and jobs.

Mr. Carns, I don’t think you did your research. You are just guessing.

Tourism directly generates jobs. It also indirectly creates jobs and generates revenue across the whole local economy. And cultural/heritage tourism, of which Allegany County has abundant resources, contributes significantly to that somewhat intangible element called “quality of life.”

The first point where you are guessing is wages. You said, “Once buildings are built and renovations are done, the construction jobs are gone. Only thing left are some service block jobs paying less than $8 an hour.”

The hourly wages in museums, history, and parks, average $15.14 (September 2008 statistics). For manufacturing, the average hourly wage is $17.80, a $2.66 difference, not a $9.80 difference, Mr. Carns.

Cultural/heritage jobs will open in our area if we all get behind the effort. We don’t have to provide tax incentives or utility hookups or wait for business to build factories. We already have the infrastructure for it. For example, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park now receives more than 3 million recreation visits annually.

I’m not saying we don’t need manufacturing jobs too. But those businesses will relocate here only if the “quality of life” in Allegany County improves. (More about quality of life below.)

And you are guessing about manufacturing jobs. Where will these manufacturing jobs you expect to arrive come from, Mr. Carns? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in March 2008 were leisure and hospitality, 520,000, compared to Manufacturing, 252,000.

Also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Wage and salary jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation are projected to grow about 31 percent over the 2006-2016 period, compared with 11 percent for all other industries combined.”

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