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Well, so is the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau! (It starts Sat. May 9.) They've got a form letter all set up for you to

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Are You Ready for National Tourism Week?

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Well, so is the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau! (It starts Sat. May 9.) They've got a form letter all set up for you to send to your state and local elected officials, letting them know how critically important tourism is to our local economy. The bureau has also put up wall-size versions of its "Why Tourism Matters" advertising campaign, launched last year, in the window displays of the now-empty Adidas store at 5th and Pike.

Slightly ironic, given that the shop is in the heart of the Convention Center district, within easy access of all those supposedly free-spending tourists. Adidas shuttered the store in February.

Seattle-based Holland America was out of the gate early last week with a press release trumpeting its contribution to the Seattle economy. Did you know that the economic impact of Holland America cruises in Seattle in 2008 included "$15,638,059 spent by passengers and crew in shops, restaurants, hotels, museums, local sightseeing attractions and taxicabs"? It would have been $15,638,060 but that one waitress at Cheesecake Factory had a little bit of an attitude about the extra whipped cream on a Saturday last July and she was shorted a buck.

When asked, a Holland America representative admits that the remarkably precise figure is really just an estimate. Based on a survey. Done in 2003. That survey was conducted by the estimable Pennsylvania-based Business Research & Economic Advisors, whose analyses "are designed to support planning, sales and marketing, and public relations activities within client organizations." Sounds like a very reliable, third-party source to me.

What's so ridiculous about all these economic impact claims--whether for cruises, tourism, stadiums, or anything else--is they only ever show one side of the equation. It's all the jobs, tax revenue, etc. we get, as if it's all free! Nothing about the millions in taxes spent on accommodating these industries with terminals, glass archways, and chain stores. Nothing about the effect on the city of making itself into an economy that serves people who don't live here. And nothing about what all that tax money might have bought instead. Like maybe a program that would allow the "Turndown Attendant" at the Grand Hyatt (seen below) to train for something with a little more of an upside?

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