Thursday, April 27, 2006
CITED ARTICLE BY ALAN SIMPSON "THE SIMPSON REPORT" ABOUT INFLATED TOURISM NUMBERS
The link is to the Simpson Report about tourism, and Mr. Simpson gives his analysis of the lack of accountability in tourism reporting. Here in Macon, we have a group of people that want to grow Macon to what it was before Brown and Williamson announced the plant was closing. The inflated numbers for tourism related to the Tour de Georgia go back to Governor Barnes when the race first began in Georgia, and I suppose the movers and shakers are taking the $36 million pie in the sky estimate for the bike race for Georgia and dividing that number by the number of host cities and then padding it a little to make the numbers look even better here in Macon. I suspect the numbers are way off for the Cherry Blossom Festival too, and there has been so many people enriching themselves from Cherry Blossom Festival proceeds in the past. When working for a CPA firm in town, I volunteered to count gate proceeds for the Cherry Blossom Festival street party one year. Trust me their was lots of cash, and I believe that too many people in town took care of their own interests instead of investing in the community. I have no definitive proof of where all of the money went, but there was enough cash coming in to remodel every building downtown in those early festival years based upon the bags of cash that came in during my volunteer time of a couple of hours.
Our officials at the Macon Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce are not the exception to the rule across the United States, as they are very much the rule. Just report large revenues from tourism, and the media obliges by reporting the inflated numbers and never questions them at all because it is an agenda to promote the town at all costs. We need revenue, and it is ok to beg, borrow and steal to get it. Afterall, there is no one paying attention to what is going on and tourism dollars reported just go in one ear and out the other. But there is one lurking problem, which is that investors are entitled to the truth. People that want to invest in a Macon downtown business absolutely deserve an accounting for tourist revenue, but there is no one there to enforce it. Inflating tourism dollars is what the City Council and the County Board of Commissioners should be questioning, but it is a grand conspiracy that is not really planned, but it goes on regardless and it goes unchecked. Anyone that invests in a restaurant or a store in any town absolutely should add to their risk assessment, the sad fact that those reporting tourist dollars are playing a shell game with no rules whatsoever. You have to watch out for your own interest because no one else will.