Years ago on Vashon, the term “cultural tourism” was a four-letter word for some. That was when we had K2 to provide middle-income jobs and housing was relatively affordable. Today is, obviously, different.
Today, our island’s economy is less about industry and more about tourism. Our restaurants, shops, artisan farms, vacation rentals, outdoor rec businesses, wedding venues and, yes, our arts organizations, all thrive on summer and holiday season visitors. We cannot afford to pull up the drawbridge and support the island on year-round residents alone.
So, it seems reasonable that, rather than fighting among ourselves over who spent what where and when we would all benefit from joining forces to “sell” Vashon’s unique attributes to the world. Art in all its forms is our island’s most abundant product. We have an abundant population of talented artists, business people, and entrepreneurs who could work together to grow our cultural tourism economy in a sustainable way, maintaining Vashon’s character while capitalizing on its exceptional nature. With collaboration, we could coalesce all who benefit from tourism to develop arts incubation programs, high-level events and all the attendant features that would encourage off-islanders to visit, spend their money and go home to tell their friends what a great experience they had here.
United we thrive … cultural tourism could support economic development on the islands, and it can be done without turning us into Port Townsend.
— Susan McCabe