Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How Do You Define "Tourism"?

Last night, at the Tourism Board meeting, Margaret Morris, alderman-elect for the First Ward, raised a question about how tourism was being defined by the Tourism Board. Reacting to some of the projects whose expenses were being approved for reimbursement, Morris commented, "One of the missions of the Tourism Board is to increase tourism and revenue from tourism, but it doesn't seem any of these things have been quantified into contributions to the public purse." She went on to say that cultural events, such this year's Latinx Heritage Festival, were important to the community and should be supported, but they are not tourism-related. 

Tourism Board member Chris McManus responded to Morris's comments by telling her that the board had redefined tourism, and according to their definition, she was a tourist. He went on to say the board did not look at tourism as an industry but as "something much more." Morris objected to being called a tourist, asserting that she was a resident, and there was a difference between a resident and a tourist.

The following pages from a document called "A Planning Framework for Hudson 'Tourism,'" created by the Tourism Board in April 2021, illustrate what McManus was talking about. 

Responding to Morris's question about quantifying the impact of the projects receiving funding from the Tourism Board, Alderman Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who now chairs the Tourism Board, said they were working on a survey to be distributed to hotel guests to determine what brought them to Hudson.

At last night's meeting, the Tourism Board also heard a report from Gary Purnhagen, project manager for Warren Street Seasonal Usage Program. In his report, Purnhagen shared the results of a survey of businesses that participated in the program this year. Of the more than thirty businesses that expanded into the street in 2021, only eleven responded to the survey. Overall, their responses were favorable. Purnhagen reports that:
  • 64 percent of respondents strongly believe that WSSUP had a positive impact on their business.
  • 46 percent feel their customers' responses to the program were entirely positive.
  • 71 percent would participate if the program were offered again in 2022.
  • 64 of respondents said they "never" heard complaints from customers about parking issues.
The following pie chart shows the responses to the statement: "The reflective cones were a sufficient deterrent to people in cars bumping into the cement blocks."

The terms of all the members of the Tourism Board expire at the end of the month. As it was originally structured, the Tourism Board is made up of eight members--four appointed by the Common Council, four appointed by the mayor--and chaired by the alderman who chairs the now defunct Common Council Economic Development Committee. Since the current Tourism Board was formed in 2020, four members have resigned, and three new members have been appointed to replace them (there is currently a vacancy on the board), and Ryan Wallace has replaced Calvin Lewis as the board chair. It is rumored that three people now serving on the Tourism Board have expressed the desire not to be reappointed.


  1. Kudos to Chris McManus who exemplifies all that is wrong with Hudson City government. Redefined "tourism," indeed. Thanks to Mr. McManus, I've redefined "stupid."

  2. Kudos to Margaret Morris.
    A resident is now a tourist?
    The bit of good news is that all terms expire at the end of the month.
    Mr. Mayor and members of Common Council, wholesale change is in order. These appointees are an embarrassment to you and the Hudson tourism/hospitality community.

    1. I can't imagine it will be easy for either the mayor or the Common Council to fill the vacancies with quality candidates if the same self-dealing crew returns for another go-round, but then maybe that's the point.

  3. Tourism promotes job creation and economic opportunity. Tourists who spend the night at Airbnbs create lodging tax, which goes directly into the City coffers to pay for things Hudson needs. Visitors who stay in hotels pay both sales and lodging tax. All of these visitors shop and dine at Hudson's many twee and overpriced boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants, leaving cash, tips, and taxes right here when they leave, without placing additional burden on our schools or social services. Certainly, this has its drawbacks, but if you can't rise to the task (McManus in particular seems incapable but this group as a whole never has) , don't accept the job. (I make exceptions for Soyak, who always seemed to have her head screwed on straight, and Dane and Keck, who were routinely the only adults in the room, oft ignored.) Locals are not tourists. They are running errands.

  4. I think there could be a nuanced understanding and approach to help promote Hudson's businesses and attractions to residents and visitors alike. In a sense, one can play a "tourist" in their own town and take advantage of what the city has to offer and keep those dollars local. I think something like Trixie's List has been doing a great job highlighting local businesses and posting an organized calendar of both business and community events, something that I bet is used by locals more than just out of towners. But, I think the Tourism Board snubbed them for a grant. However I don't think the definition of a "local tourist" should be used in bad faith to justify giving the money to whomever. Community group events are also important, but should probably be a seperate grant/board oversight.

    1. I take your point but I'd point out that the intent of the Tourism Board was to enlarge the pie of out-of-towners visiting Hudson, not promoting the city to its own citizens. There was another route to that in the annual events budget administered by the Arts, Entertainment and Tourism Committee of the Common Council (back when the Council had committees and did things in a thoughtful, considered manner). The bottom line is the current Tourism Board is of a type with the Tweed administration.

    2. I check Trixie's list every week, extremely informative and thorough. But then again, am I a tourist or not a tourist?

    3. More than thirty businesses and eleven
      responses to WSSUP survey. This would not seem to be all that informative. Also helpful would be what kind of businesses responded-restaurants, retail?

  5. I mostly agree with U.Jack, but I also want to mention that if one of the purposes of the tourism board is to promote our city and bring money from out of town, that was definitely succeeded by the Latinx Festival. It brought a big crowd from MA as well as other parts of New York including NYC; Hudson retailers were greatly benefited from the attraction to our city that the event brought.
    I do think it is important for city officials to attend these events in order to have an accurate opinion on city matters.
    Our city is experiencing a lot of inner conflict that can interfere with productivity and our ability to recognize that we do live in a very special community that allows people from all different cultures to express and celebrate their identity.

    1. I don't understand why the city needs to finance all these separate cultural events, isolating and separating people into categories. A single, larger multi cultural event that encompasses and celebrates all cultures together would make more sense and unify everyone as citizens of a diverse, multicultural country. A parade could have components of each group and music and foods of every culture could be enjoyed and celebrated together.