Pricing, not weather, why tourism is down


 To the Editor:

It was almost entertaining to read the reasons ticked off by various business owners, realtors, and even the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in the recent article “Business leaders: European travel, rainy June dampen summer.” I would have laughed, but the delusional rationalizations as to why tourism was down this year can only be chalked up to one thing, and it ain’t the weather or the world opening up again (last summer the world was just as open). Pricing.

This is America, where the system is a free market, where competition is supposed to drive innovation and economic growth, and what we saw was not the best of this system whatsoever. Martha’s Vineyard prices out the customer. This wasn’t inflation. Supply chains were re-established, the job market was flush, but prices kept going up and up. In some cases, something as basic as a fish sandwich might cost almost twice as much as it did five years ago. And the number of investors who have nothing to do with this Island aside from buying it up or bringing over businesses increased — they see this Island as an ATM they can keep withdrawing from.

Hey, people can charge whatever they like; some will be upset at these criticisms. Yes! But the bottom line in the American system is that whatever the product is, it is only worth what someone will pay for it. The other truism at work here is that once a brand has gotten the reputation of not being a good value any longer, or representing something the customer doesn’t like, it can be very hard to re-establish that value. Just ask Budweiser after their recent foray into cultural politics.

Lastly, don’t shoot the messenger. 

Dean Rosenthal